Sunday, June 16th, 2019

Anchor Tax dropped as NZ backs down on milking Americas Cup for all its Worth

 Silo Marina

A proposed anchor tax has been dropped by Auckland city council as the NZ city backs down from milking the Americas Cup for all its worth

New Zealand was looking to the up-coming 36th edition of the Americas Cup as the goose that lays the golden egg.

The Auckland Council had, until recently, proposed a daily anchoring charge, for visiting superyachts. They were suggesting a charge of more than £500 a day just to moor inside locally controlled waters.

Auckland councillor Chris Darby told the local newspaper he believes it is unfair for local ratepayers. He suggested it is wrong, “To subsidise the super-rich for extra work the council-funded harbour master does.”  

Darby said, “I would say there’s a fair swag of Aucklanders who won’t be impressed to find out that we are currently subsidising the seriously rich superyacht owners.”

John Matla, Marina Manager for the Viaduct Marina and Silo Marina clearly thinks the same.  His marina is one of the Official Marinas of the 36th America’s Cup in the city. Thanking those that contacted the marinas regarding dockage at Viaduct & Silo Marinas during the 36thAmerica’s Cup, he states, “In a few days we will formally ask for Expressions of Interest from those seeking berthage at our marinas between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021. This expression of interest will be advertised through various international boating media for 6 – 8 weeks.”

Foolish decision

Speaking for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, who are the America’s Cup defenders, Squadron Commodore, Ian Cook, said, “The council had not consulted with Team NZ, the squadron or the marine industry before announcing plans for the anchor tax.”  He described the council as foolish for not seeking advice from those in the know and claimed that, “Considerable damage has been done to New Zealand’s reputation as word spread to owners, skippers and vessel management agents around the world.

Peter Busfield of the NZ Marine Industry Association said, “The proposal sent a message to the international superyacht community that they were being scalped by New Zealand.”

Ian Cook, who owns the locally based boat builder; Yachting Developments said, “There was a lot of damage done very quickly.”

Humble pie

But now after concentrated lobbying by the Squadron, the NZ Marine Industry Association and Emirates Team New Zealand, it looks like the council has been forced to eat humble pie and back down dropping the anchor tax in favour pay a one-off entry fee of NZ$23 (£11.85 including GST) per metre for a stay up to one year

The one-off fee will also apply to cruise liners and cargo vessels.

While the news has delighted Squadron Commodore, Ian Cook, has confirmed that there is still the hard job of spreading the word and regaining the city’s reputation as one that welcomes visiting yachts from overseas. 

He has confirmed that Vice Commodore Aaron Young, who will take over as Commodore during the America’s Cup in 2021, will visit the Palma Superyacht Regatta to try to undo some of the damage the proposed anchor tax caused among the international community.

Peter Busfield who will also attend the Palma regatta, said, “The money spent by superyachts visiting New Zealand before and during the America’s Cup was the single biggest gain for the economy during the event..  he added now the council has understood the “unintended consequences” of the proposed anchoring tax.

“Now the council understands that,” he said “The task will be one of, “Encouraging the owners of superyachts to base their vessels in New Zealand from next year in the lead-up to the Prada Cup and the America’s Cup for refits and leisure time.”

Economic benefits

Aware of the enormous economic benefits, the cup will bring to Auckalnd it has been estimated that in the region of NZ$ 430 million ( £221 million) will be spent in tourism, the marine industry and other businesses.  Each yacht typically spends an average of NZ$2.7million (£1.4 million) during a New Zealand stay-over.

Anchor taxes introduced in the South of France and Sardinia in the past have been repealed following significant losses to local economies and marine industries when yachts decided  to boycott the areas affected by tax.

“Over 100 vessels are interested in alongside berthage, for the coming 36thAmerica’s Cup”, according to Duthie Lidgard, the Director of Asia Pacific Superyachts NZ

Lidgard enthuses, “We are looking forward to planning the arrival for yachts and urges Capatins planning an arrival for the event to contact him on duthie@asia-pacific-superyachts.com

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