Over the past few years, the charter market section has proven to be clearly crisis-resistant and stable. This sector also looks with confidence towards the 2012 season. What people want are quality for on-site service, well-maintained yachts plus everything else which is good and worth its price.
Also in these times of ubiquitous Internet connections, customers like to have the personal advice of a chartering company or their agency staff. Also, people mainly book early to make sure that everything will work out well as regards the boat, the region and their holiday times.
The world’s largest yacht and powerboat trade fair “boot Düsseldorf” will offer plenty of opportunity to do all that between 21 and 29 January 2012. Visitors may find a topical survey on the chances for spending the most beautiful weeks of the year in halls 13 and 14. 320 international chartering companies, travel offices and tourism associations will take them to holiday and travelling environments, both on powerboats and sailing yachts.
The general tendency is that people follow the trend for high-quality and comfortably equipped charter boats. Customers have on their wish list auto pilots, bow thrusters, electric anchor winches as well as a sufficient number of sleeping berths, so that nobody will have to spend the night in the ship’s salon. Last year, a company offered house boats with a small swimming pool on the upper deck on the Mueritz lake and these were always fully booked. Another charter company will offer house boats with flat rate W-LAN hotspots on the lakes and waterways of Brandenburg for the forthcoming season. Hybrid drive house boats are included in programmes of Brandenburg and France, to be run on diesel engines or electric motors by choice. When running on electricity they are especially easy to operate for docking or casting off, just using a joystick.
There are different trends as regards the size of boats. As a rule, the more experienced travellers decide in favour of longer yachts over 12 metres. Beginners favour shorter boats. Trip lengths are rather shorter for regions close by or easily accessible by cheap flights. People then also often book for two trips a year. Where flights are clearly more expensive, customers mostly book only once a year and for the duration of two weeks. At present and for the 2012 season, charter boat customers rely on well-known and tested regions with fitting on-land infrastructure as well. Powerboat captains are especially drawn to the inland lakes of Central Europe, while Baltic and Mediterranean destinations are most attractive for sailing yachts. The Caribbean and other far-away destinations like the Seychelles or the Pacific southern seas are rounding off these offers, but they continue to be dream targets for most customers.
Charter boat customers are spoilt for choice. When deciding for a bare boat charter, a customer takes over the entire yacht to run it himself. It is also possible to decide for skipper charter. A flotilla includes a number of bare boat-chartered yachts. A leading boat under expert control will sail ahead, ready to support the other yachts during sailing manoeuvres. People deciding in favour of a boat complete with skipper and crew booked a no-worry package. Berth charter means that people may either book individual berths or cabins for two on a yacht with skipper (and crew).
Trends and where sailors want to travel
Sailors want to enjoy free water courses and wind, while families prefer regions where winds are not so strong. Given present booking levels, the following are the regions most in demand for 2012:
- The Baltic,
- Spain’s Balearic islands,
- France, and
- the Caribbean
Trips across the Baltic Sea starting from bases in the Luebeck and Kiel Bays to Denmark and Sweden are attracting people every year. Sailors with a sports interest appreciate good winds and they are booking early at all times. On the contrary, families base their decisions more on the weather, booking at short notice. Therefore it is a general rule that after a good summer, there will be brisk demand for the coming season. After a season with bad weather, however, demand tends to fall off. Summer in 2011 offered a rather mixed bag of weather in the North.
With a length of almost 1,000 kilometres and some 1,175 islands, Croatia and theDalmatian coast have been leading targets of the Mediterranean region for years already. And Greek waters moved one place up in the rankings to take third place now. To visit all of some 3,600 islands there one would have to be on tour every day for about ten years. Experts count the Ionian Islands off the western coast of Greece and the Saronic Gulf south of Athens with their moderate winds in summer among the most beautiful and safest regions worldwide. Weather and sailing conditions there are equally ideal for families, beginners and experienced sailors alike.
Traditionally, Spain’s Balearic Islands continue to hold fourth place. Despite a great choice among many low-priced flights from all German airports, any higher ranking is countered mainly by higher prices charged by marinas and restaurants. The Turkish Agean and Riviera with their areas of strong winds moved slightly ahead again in the rankings to occupy place five. Visitors obviously accept ever higher flight and extra costs. Italy is back in fashion, particularly the area starting from the island of Elba and around Sardinia. Though marinas and restaurants are not very cheap for both locations, they still are lower than for France’s Côte d’Azur. That is why charter customers leave for Italy in larger numbers.
As for the Caribbean, ranking eighth on this scale, the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique are amongst the best-loved destinations. From here, people leave for the Windward Islands and for longer trips down to Grenada. Or people sail towards theLeeward Islands, including the British Virgin Islands. These wind-protected islands are ideal for shorter one-day trips.
Trends and travel destinations for powerboat drivers
Customers chartering powerboats increasingly prefer restful and energy-saving crossings along rivers, canals and lakes. Of course, there are also customers still prepared to spend more on the cost of fuel for a rapid ride over the waves of the open seas. Given present booking results regions most in demand for 2011 and continuing this tendency for 2012 are the following:
1. Germany: inland lakes and waterways,
2. Netherlands: inland lakes and waterways,
3. France: inland lakes and waterways, and
4. Spain’s Balearic Islands
The Bundesverband Wassersportwirtschaft (BVWW – Federal Water Sports Management Association) was involved in providing for licence-free operations of chartered boats. This mainly benefitted the lakes and inland waterways of Germany’s East. They continue to hold first place among powerboat charter results. After three hours of theoretical and practical instruction and acquiring a charter certificate, guests on charter boats may start their relaxed tours. There are a large number of waterways and lakes in the states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Brandenburg – they alone have more than 3,000 lakes and numerous links, flowing waters and canals. Land-based restaurants, often coming with their own jetty for guests, offer cheap food. The Saar river also offers attractive sections for licence-free charter boat tours.
The lakes and inland waterways of the Netherlands, offering a multitude of canals and lakes continue to be great favourites. Customers may charter boats up to 15 metres long for leisurely operations under 20 kilometres an hour without a licence. France’s lakes and inland waterways with their varied offerings of canals and French savoir vivre also score highly as a region for licence-free operations of house boats. And around Spain’s Balearic Islands the number of Mallorca-based powerboats on offer has remained almost constant.
Release of Bundesverband Wassersportwirtschaft e.V. (Federal Water Sports Management Association, a registered association)
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