Their visits may be infrequent, but every time one of the floating palaces known as super-yachts visits our shores it could inject more than $1 million into the local economy. Fuel, provisions and general sightseeing expenditure easily rack up that kind of total, according to the people who know. In one recent example, a superyacht visiting Darwin spent $650,000 on fuel and a further $320,000 on provisions, while the 60 permanent crew members were estimated to have spent about $170,000 in the two weeks the boat was docked in the city. In another example, according to the Department of Industry and Resources, one vessel owner spent more than $20 million on a refit in Brisbane. And, of course, there's always the possibility for greater investment if the owner stumbles across something more corporate to spend their money on. That's why industry body SuperYachts Base WA is promoting Western Australia as a destination to visit, or even build super-yachts, a class described as a motor boat more than 25 metres in length and costing between $25 million and $300 million. SYBWA chief executive Rod Tweddle said in the case of the average super-yacht, at $30 million, annual operating expenditure would be about $3 million, not including the cost of major repairs. And there are already local examples. For example, Singaporean-owned, Tasmanianbuilt White Rabbit, a super-yacht with a crew of 16 which featured in WA Business News last week, has been docked at Fremantle for about seven weeks, with an estimated $250,000 spent in that time, much of that on repairs and maintenance. However, while there is capacity for super-yachts to spend up big while visiting the state, Mr Tweddle admitted that distance was proving to be an impediment in developing WA as a super-yacht tourist destination. SYBWA's brief, therefore, is to attract super yacht owners to WA and promote the state's yachtbuilding expertise. "Its all about making WA more attractive, so that the Europeans, the Americans, people from the Middle East will travel to the state and have boats built," Mr Tweddle said. "And while they're here, go have a look at the Kimberley, or tour the Great Southern and enjoy the fine wines. It's all about saying 'we know it's a long way, but it's worth coming because there's so much to see and do that's unique'." Currently the state has two superyacht boat builders - Hanseatic Marine and Evolution Yachts - and is about to welcome another player, Avenger Yachts, a wholly owned subsidiary of aluminium shipbuilder Strategic Marine.
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