Colombo, Sept 24 – An endeavor to launch luxury yacht cruises in Sri Lanka has been stalled over a tight shipbuilding requirement, forcing already booked tours to be cancelled and depriving the country of a potential growth industry, its promoters said.
TVB Group, a travel group which already run ‘liveaboard’ luxury yacht cruises in the Red Sea, under Aggressor brand said its Sri Lanka launch attempt was hit by a requirement that the yatch should have been built to a standard certified by an international classification society.
Sri Lanka’s Director General of Merchant Shipping has required the yatch to be built of one of International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) standards. Such standards are mandatorily applied to larger ships and is usually an insurance requirement.
“The problem is none of the 1000 yachts operating in the Red Sea in Egypt or the 430 yachts operating in the Maldives or the 500+ yachts in Thailand are ever built to IACS classification,” TVB said in a statement.
“So indirectly the DG of Merchant Shipping is asking for something that no other commercial yachting tourism national asks for and dooming any new fleet development before one yacht can start to operate.”
At least 7 weeks of charters booked since September 03 have been cancelled so far, TVB said.
The firm said its vessel, Sri Lanka Aggressor was lying idle in Colombo harbour.
IACS classification is intended to improve safety and may for example assure the ability to navigate safely in storms, industry analysts say.
While it is still voluntary for smaller vessels, most yachts, especially commercial pleasure craft have to follow safety codes of the flag administration it is registered in.
Meanwhile TVB group said it is “continuing to work with their local Representatives, lawyers and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority to find a solution” to prevent more cancellations.
TVB says Sri Lanka could have a 50 strong fleet of tourist yachts in a few years if the industry is allowed to grow.