John Huber: Yachting and Luxury Tourism go hand in hand

TEMPLE met with John Huber, Chairman of Yachting Malta to discuss the Maltese Yachting Industry 

Can you explain to us the role of Yachting Malta with regards to the industry?

Yachting can be classified as a multi-faceted discipline; it is a sport, an industry – tourism and  also repair, maintenance, berthing, chandlery etc, and it is regulated by the transport  authorities. all these aspects tie up and make up the industry as we know it. One can consider sport as also very much dependant on theindustry due to sponsorships. The  Maltese yachting industry has always been a substantial contributor to the Maltese economy  for the last decades – both directly from the collection of VAT, flagging well and indirectly  from the spending power of visiting yachts and wintering yachts in Malta making use of our  yards and marine service providers. An economic impact assessment of the Rolex Middle Sea  Race, commissioned by Yachting Malta, resulted into a positive economic impact of just  under €5 million– a direct injection into the Maltese economy from an event that basically  lasts a week.  

At Yachting Malta, we have taken a pro-active approach in assisting industry to showcase the  Maltese Islands at major international events such as the Monaco Yacht Show and the Cannes Yachting Festival. As Yachting Malta, we have attained synergies with the Super Yacht  Industry Network Malta, and to this end we are working together to promote Malta as a  centre of excellence when it comes to its yards, maintenance and repair and facilities.  

What are Yachting Malta’s efforts to continue promoting Malta as a Yachting  Destination? 

Our main remit as Yachting Malta is to attract events and enhance events that are already  happening. We are currently in the process in the bidding process for a number events whilst  being in constant contact with our local clubs to see how local events can attract a wider and  broader audience. As we speak, we just witnessed the arrival of 14 yachts that participated in  a classic yacht race from St Tropez to Malta. Yachting Malta has entered into an agreement  with a major production house to have the race shown on Inside Sailing and be broadcasted  on 58 stations world-wide, an overall TV potential audience of 900 million viewers. We shall  also be enhancing the live streaming start of the Rolex Middle Sea Race through an agreed  collaboration with the Royal Malta Yacht Club. Yachting Malta has also sponsored the first international regatta of Birzebbugia Sailing Club, assisted the Vikings Sailing Club with dinghies and facilities and also supported the Malta Young Sailors Club with the Euromed  Championships, which have attracted nearly 250 young sailors from all over the world prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

How can Yachting be one of the primary industries focusing on luxury tourism in  Malta? 

We believe that luxury tourism and yachting go hand in hand. Local yacht charters, especially  the high-end ones, offer a unique experience of Malta when they carry HNW’s on board.  Personally, I would like to see a more-focused drive from the relative authorities when it  comes to this sector. At Yachting Malta, we were the first of entities to promote local  chartersduring the COVID-19 pandemic through a national TV advert campaign. Yacht  Charter is regulated by Transport Malta and the promotion of Malta is under the direct remit of the Malta Tourism Authority. However, as Yachting Malta, we do our best despite our limited resources. As I said, we definitely need a more focused campaign for this sector. 

As Yachting Malta Chairman, what are your goals for Yachting Malta in the foreseeable future? 

There are a number projects that we are working on, however, it is premature to announce  some of them. We were unfortunate to have the Yachting Malta Race Week cancelled twice  due to restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic even though we were  allowed to organise the first offshore race to Linosa. We consider this offshore race as a great  success which has led to the introduction of Veuve Clicquot – a prime yachting brand as a  sponsor of the race. Hopefully this shall be a yearly event on the yachting calendar. This shall  be combined with a week of daily yachting events that shall also include the Women’s  Festival of Sailing, endorsed by the World Sailing . We are now working again on a Boat  Show which should not only be pleasing to attendees but also an assistance to industry. We  are also planning a major event to happen in Malta in 2022. Yachting Malta, has reached a collaboration agreement with the Malta Sailing Federation to have a stronger Malta presence  in the international fora.  

Looking forward, we truly have a busy but exciting schedule ahead. I am a firm believer that the yachting industry could be one of the Maltese economy’s major pillars whilst being a continuously successful sector from a sports perspective.  

photo credit – Deea Buzdugan 

This interview was published on Temple Magazine in July 2021