The east coast is the closest marine playground to Bangkok and is home to stunning islands, beaches, cruising grounds and a world-class marina.
The Ocean Marina Yacht Club (OMYC), located just outside of Pattaya, is the perfect place to keep your boat – it’s a fully serviced, safe facility with a variety of onsite suppliers, who can quickly get you what you need if they don’t have it in stock. And the marina is only a one-and-a-half hour drive from Bangkok.
Ocean Marina is the heart and hub of the Eastern Seaboard’s boating community. You can join in the marina’s racing/sailing programme, and it is a great place to mingle with fellow boaters and sailors. It is home to the annual Top of the Gulf Regatta, where you can race with the best sailors in the region. Ocean Marina also hosts the Platu racing series. The Platu was specially designed to be sailed in the Gulf of Thailand and sailors come from all over the globe to race it in its home waters.
The marina also recently purchased a number of S\V14s to help foster and encourage para sailing in the region and the OMYC community has gone out of its way to try and make sailing easier and more accessible for those with physical disabilities.
Every year, the marina hosts the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show, which brings together all the major regional movers and shakers in the leisure marine world, so you get the low-down on the latest happenings and innovations in the nautical world.
Pattaya is also changing. Once known as city of sex and sin, it has become much more family-friendly with a myriad of activities catering to folks of all ages.
And once you get out of Ocean Marina, there is a whole oceanic playground and cruising ground to explore – 187 islands in the Gulf of Thailand in total, many unexplored, with quiet, beautiful, scenic anchorages.
If you don’t have time to go on extended trips, you can always moor your boat at Ocean Marina and use it on the weekends going for a sunset cruise or a brief overnight trip – a great way to entertain friends and family.
For years, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean have been the two biggest yachting destinations especially for moneyed people from northern Europe. But if you want a holiday in the Med space is at a premium, and the shoreline is cluttered with chock-a-block resorts, causing some to echo the refrain, “The Med is dead.” And many Caribbean countries are no longer as welcoming to outsiders as they once were. As a result, more and more yachting aficionados are discovering Southeast Asia, one of the last remaining frontiers for those seeking warm and beautiful escapes.
As more people work independently and away from the office, there’s no better locale to work from than Thailand’s scenic shores. Modern communications technology, as well as fast and inexpensive transport, make the Land of Smiles a viable option available to an ever-growing number of entrepreneurs.
And when people bring their yachts here, they can easily become seduced by the expat lifestyle that Thailand offers. Respected international schools and hospitals as well as good international air connections and telecommunications. Throw into the mix distinguished chefs at international-standard restaurants, top-of-the-line golf courses, international sailing regattas and a vibrant nightlife, and you’ve got a package that most people find quite attractive.
A major problem preventing more yachties from jumping on the Southeast Asia bandwagon is simple ignorance. If their yacht breaks down and needs repair, they don’t think there are capable tradesmen in the region to get their boat up and running again. WRONG!!
Also, as each country has different rules and regulations for how long yachts and crew can stay in their country it can be confusing for yachties from abroad when it comes to planning itineraries. That’s where yacht agencies come in and there are a number of well-reputed ones in Thailand who can help with everything from visa regulations to catering, to port of choice and recommended tradespeople.
Ocean Marina, for example, is a fully-serviced marina which can rival any in Europe. The marina’s breakwater provides sheltered berthing and the chandleries on site offer a full range of leisure marine supplies while Harbor Master Scott Finsten can recommend companies for any maintenance or repair work you may need.
Scott Finsten is no newcomer to the marine industry having moved to Thailand and Ocean Marina almost nine years ago from his home country of Australia, where he was working at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
The initiator of the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show eight years ago, we ask Scott to share with us some background on the show, the plans and goals for this year, and also for the future.
How did the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show come about?
We were planning an expansion to the marina and I said to the team that once we’ve finished the expansion I’ll organise an international-standard boat show to showcase the marina to everyone. We finished, and so I did.
What were the aims of that first show?
Our primary aim was to target Thai visitors. We wanted to attract Thai people to the show, to showcase the boating lifestyle to Thais and to also interest them in the coastal areas. Thailand has stunning beaches, islands and cruising grounds and I’d like to see more Thai people appreciating their own coast.
When I first arrived at Ocean Marina almost nine years ago, Thai boat ownership in the marina was at 30%. Today, that has increased; today 45% of the boats in the marina are Thai owned. I attribute a lot of that to the boat show, which has helped and continues to help, introduce Thai people to boating. And I also think the growth of charter on the East Coast has helped to introduce Thai people to boating and increase Thai boat ownership.
How has the show developed over the years?
The most obvious development has been the growth in size of the show. The onshore space is much more today than in year one. The numbers of exhibitors, variety of businesses exhibiting and the diverse range of products and brands represented at the show last year, compared to year one, is considerably more.
We’ve also seen a huge growth in the number of visitors – they have more than doubled since the show’s first year.
What hasn’t changed significantly, and this is a good thing, is the demographic of visitors. More than 70% of the visitor profile is Thai. This reinforces our early goals and remains an important goal for the show now and in the future.
What will be new at this years show?
This year is the eighth consecutive year we have organised the show. The event will take place 21 to 24 November and will have onshore and in-water displays.
The exhibitor area is similar to last year though we have expanded the in-water space and we can now welcome upto 40 boats in-the-water at the show.
The major change onshore is the roofed areas. This year we will have a single large tent that will be home to most of the onshore booths and displays. There is also raw outdoor space for those exhibitors who wish to create unique displays, but the large roofed area will be home to a diverse range of displays. Being all under one roof is good for exhibitors and makes it more convenient for visitors.
Please share some of this year’s highlights?
The in-water demonstrations will return again this year. These are always popular with visitors and allow water sports equipment and “boat toys” best show what they can do.
New in-the-water this year will be a fleet of S\V14s. These sailing dinghies have been designed for people with disabilities. Ocean Marina invested in a fleet of eight S\V14s which arrived earlier this year with the aim to make sailing more inclusive. The boats will be in-the-water and available for any people with disabilities to have a go. We will have a support team so if you’ve never sailed before but want to try, you can do so any day during the show.
Other highlights include helicopter rides. We are working with an aviation company who will have a helicopter based onsite during the show and will be offering paid trips during the show. There will also be a sea plane company exhibiting at the show for the first time.
In addition to our always-popular yacht cruises that depart every hour throughout the four days, we have this year introduced a two-hour sunset cruise which people can book in advance or at the show. It will be priced 1,500THB per person and includes snacks and refreshments.
We will also plan to have a fashion show.
The activity programme is bigger than ever before, and this is in addition to all our regular features and family-friendly activities that we have every year, so I invite everyone to come down to Ocean Marina 21 to 24 November and enjoy the show. Entry is free!
What are your goals for show in the future?
Firstly, we want to built on the last seven years of success. Organising a show of this size is not easy, there are many people involved and many variables. The show has been well received by exhibitors and visitors since we launched in 2012, and we want to build on that.
There’s no radical change to our target visitors: our overriding aim is to use the show to introduce more Thai people to boating and to support the industry’s growth.
Within the marina itself we have some exciting plans. After a number of expansions over the last eight or nine years, we are now pretty much maxed out in terms of size in-the-water. We can accommodate 450 boats in-the-water, making us the largest marina in South East Asia.
However, we’re not resting on our laurels. We are striving to improve and later this year we will be introducing a new waste collection and recycling initiative in the marina. This will focus on waste brought back by boats from cruising. Waste will separated into receptacles on each dock and then sent for recycling or reuse, with any funds made from the sale of waste going direct to those privately employed on boats in the marina. The marina will not accept any of the revenues, but wish to encourage the boating community to work together to improve the marine environment that we all love so much.
Many people remain convinced that if you want to go sailing in Thailand you must go to the Phuket-Phang Nga-Krabi triangle.
But that’s just not the case. All told, there are 187 islands to explore in the Gulf of Thailand. There is some terrific sailing to be done in the Koh Chang archipelago, specifically the three main islands of Koh Chang, Koh Mak and Koh Kood.
The jumping off point for these destinations is Ocean Marina, Thailand (and South East Asia’s) largest marina where there are close to 70 boats available to choose from for charter or join-in trips. And if time is of the essence, those charter companies offering multi-day cruising can arrange for you to pick up your boat at Koh Chang, Thailand’s second largest island.
There are many isolated bays and anchorages in the archipelago that make for a perfect sailing holiday and you’re unlikely to see much other boat traffic making you feel like you are alone in your own water wonderland.
For the more adventurous with the proper visa and custom documentation, you can sail into Cambodian waters and venture to areas that few sailboats ever get to visit.
The nexus for all sailing on Thailand’s east coast is Ocean Marina – whether you want to go to a sailing school, buy marine supplies, fix your yacht, moor your yacht, anything and everything is available at Ocean Marina.
If you don’t have time for an extended trip to the Koh Chang area you can always do a day trip from Ocean Marina to one of the many neighbouring islands, and if you want to practice your navigation skills head over Koh Si Chang way and the channel that leads to Laem Chabang – one of the busiest seaports in all of Southeast Asia.
An extended sailing trip that will take you close to Cambodian waters and a number of deserted islands, or for those on a tight timeline a day cruise to go snorkeling and have a picnic on a scenic beach – it’s all available and possible through the companies operating out of Ocean Marina.
Millennials are becoming one of the biggest groups of travellers globally, and they are looking for new experiences and something beyond the norm to do when they travel. Today, they make up 40% of all international travelers and half of all international luxury trips are made by millennials.
This is where yachting tourism fits in; chartering boats or joining day trips out on-the-water are new experiences for many and are becoming ever more popular with millennials the world over.
For a long time upwardly mobile Thais shunned life on the water, preferring to avoid direct sunlight. But now, with sleek outdoor wear and yachting clothing that breathes and protects against the sun’s ultraviolet rays, there is a trend of more Thais going boating. Also, larger motor yachts will come with a captain and crew so passengers can enjoy their cruise with indoor air-conditioned luxury should it be preferred.
As such, the number of Thais going on day trips or chartering boats in Pattaya has increased 90% over the last five years.
The gateway to these marine leisure experiences is Ocean Marina where boats can be chartered to nearby locations for snorkeling and swimming adventures as well as picnics on deserted islands. For those that are keen on sailing, there are sailing schools that can take you from “zero to hero” in no time. Smaller dinghy boats are also available for hire for those who want to get experience from the ground up. As are kayaks and fishing boats for those who want a totally different aquatic adventure.
A huge part of millennials’ life is their social network; they want to be cool, and to be seen doing cool things. Experiences are to be shared on Facebook and Instagram, or tweeted about on Twitter, and what better eye-catching experience is there to share with your friends and followers than an on-water experience off Thailand’s stunning east coast. Sunset cruises, boat shows, regattas, beach clubs with beautiful people wearing (or not) beautiful clothes all make for great posts on your favourite social platform.
For years, it was thought that the Chinese only traveled in group packages, but the truth is group tours are declining, especially with the Chinese. Fifty percent of Chinese travelling overseas are now FITs and millennials comprise 60% of all Chinese travelling overseas. These Chinese millennials in particular are looking for more luxury travel. They want more individual experiences. Aquatic adventures offer those unique experiences.
Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show visitor demographics show a growing attendance from Thai millennials and is a market organisers are targetting to grow further in 2019 and beyond.
Bangkok is a great city – to get away from on the weekend. And over recent years, Pattaya has undergone a shift towards an upmarket destination, popular with families.
Evidence of this can be found in the growing number of Thai tourists visiting the area, Thais who perhaps previously would have traveled to Cha-Am or Hua Hin.
A little further afield lies Bang Saray, which has gained quite the reputation for being a family-friendly beachside destination with reasonably-priced accommodation and a number of great seafood restaurants. The area has become a big hit with many because of its quiet, laid back beachfront vibe.
A number of family-oriented activities and attractions have opened on the east coast that are bound to keep the kids entertained for hours on end such as the Cartoon Network Amazone, Ramayana Water Park and Legend Siam. There are also go-kart courses, skating rinks, ATV tracks, tropical botanical gardens.., the list goes on. And if you can find someone to mind the kids, there are dozens of world-class quality golf courses in the immediate vicinity.
The area immediately surrounding Ocean Marina Yacht Club has seen a resurgence of 5-star resorts opening nearby, including the Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa, the Mason – a private-pool villa resort – and the recently opened Ana Anan Resort & Villas. Properties such as the neighbouring Mövenpick Siam Pattaya now make it a point to offer yacht cruises as an option for their guests. Many of these resorts are going out of their way to offer family packages, especially to guests traveling from Bangkok for a weekend getaway.
And many of these high-end properties now have kids’ activity rooms, or day care, where parents can drop off their children for a few hours and enjoy some quiet time. The hotels have geared menus and numerous programs around children making Pattaya and the east coast today, a popular vacation choice with families from all over the world.
Thailand’s East Coast has become a leading destination for visitors from around the world and a priority region in which businesses are looking to invest. Planned road, rail and air infrastructure improvements as well as inward investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor project are set to have a significant impact on business and leisure in the region, and the east coast’s marine industry is well positioned to support this growth.
Located at the heart of the region’s marine industry and yachting tourism is Ocean Marina Yacht Club, the largest marina in South East Asia and home to the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show which will take place for the eighth time from 21 to 24 November, 2019.
“Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show is one of our signature marine events and has grown considerably since its launch in 2012. Visitors reached almost 6,000 last year and were up 5% year-on-year, while overall numbers are up 183% since year one,” said Mr. Napong Paripontpochanapisuti, Managing Director, Ocean Property Co. Ltd., organisers of the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show.
“We invest more than 10 million baht each year in developing the show and marketing it overseas and throughout Thailand, and we are targetting a 20% growth in the number of visitors this year. Our aim is for the show to be a platform for the industry, to promote marine-related businesses and services, yachting tourism, and showcase the stunning coastline and islands along Thailand’s east coast, as well as introducing the boating lifestyle to more Thais.”
Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show helped to generate 2.5 billion baht of business for Thailand’s marine industry in 2018. Although Thailand’s tourism is currently experiencing a dip, the fundamentals remain strong and the east coast’s future looks bright with yachting tourism expected to contribute significantly to the tourism sector.
“The first four months of the year were very strong and although visitors during May and June have tapered off, the total number of tourists joining boat trips at Ocean Marina Yacht Club in H1/2019 is up 2% year-on-year. Chinese and Korean tourists remain the top day trippers but what is encouraging is the number of Thais who are enjoying time on the water – Thai nationals were our third largest nationality in H1/2019,” commented Mr. Scott Finsten, Harbour Master of Ocean Marina Yacht Club, organisers of the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show.
This bodes well for yachting tourism on the east coast. With its proximity to Bangkok, more Thai people are holidaying on the east coast and many are enjoying the boating lifestyle. Over 70% of visitors to the 2018 Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show were Thai and more than 50% of boats berthed at Ocean Marina Yacht Club are Thai owned.
“Yachting tourism on Thailand’s east coast is relatively undeveloped. Countries such as Greece, which is famous for its established charter industry, and Australia, which has a large population of domestic boat owners, outperform Thailand currently yet neither have the tourism numbers of Thailand. Thailand expects to welcome approximately 40 million international visitors this year and Pattaya in the region of 14 million – these numbers underscore the huge potential for yachting tourism in Thailand and this is something Ocean Marina Yacht Club are focussed on developing,” added Mr. Finsten.
At this year’s Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show, upto 40 boats will be displayed by leading international boat brands and brokers. These will be complemented by a wide range of marine products and accessories, boat toys and gadgets, luxury properties, super cars and more. Live on-water demonstrations will take place over the four days as well as free yacht cruises, sunset cruises, sun downers, fashion shows, pop-up restaurants and lots of activities for all the family to enjoy.
The 8th Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show takes place 21st to 24th November, 2019 at South East Asia’s largest marina, Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Pattaya. Entry is free.
The Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show highlights the best of Thailand’s east coast, showcasing its position as one of Asia’s leading seaside resort hubs with outstanding facilities and the capability to host large scale international events. This image is about to be enhanced further with the Thai government’s ambitious Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Development Plan, which includes the Eastern High-Speed Railways Airport Link connecting Don Muang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao international airports.
The EEC is a priority project on the national government’s agenda and covers the three eastern provinces of Chaochoengsao, Chonburi, and Rayong.
Another important development that is part of the EEC is the expansion of three key seaports: Phase III Laem Chabang, Phase III Map Ta Phut, and the Sattahip Commercial deep seaport. Recently, the State Railway Authority of Thailand announced the construction of a new double-track railway between Saraburi and Chachangsao, which will help facilitate the transfer of goods and products from Laem Chabang.
In addition to significant government investment in the transport infrastructure – roads, rail and air – the EEC region is positioned to welcome inbound international investment and already there is a lot of interest from overseas companies looking to invest in the region and locate offices and staff there. This in turn supports the economy of the area and will have positive knock-on effects to the supply chain and supporting businesses.
With an emphasis on innovation and digital development, the EEC is a flagship project for Thailand and offshoots are already being considered for other regions in the country.
The development of business in the eastern region will also provide a boost to the leisure industry. As more personnel locate to the east coast, leisure activities grow in demand, and as the transport infrastructure between Bangkok’s airports and the east coast improves, as well as expansion of U-Tapao International Airport, the number of domestic and international visitors is set to grow further.
Pattaya welcomed more than 14 million visitors in 2018 and with reigns as the second largest tourism destination outside of Bangkok. Improved access, infrastructure and hospitality facilities will support growth in Pattaya and along the east coast.
The 8th Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show is set take place 21 – 24 November at the award-winning Ocean Marina Yacht Club. As the largest marina in South East Asia, Ocean Marina is an ideal home for a boat show of this size and more than 100 exhibitors from around Thailand and overseas are expected, including the latest international boat brands and models, local builds, marine products and accessories, luxury property, lifestyle products, food and beverage pop-ups, and much more.
Want to know more? Want to get involved? Here are 6 reasons why you should exhibit at this year’s Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show:
1) Sales and Lead Opportunities
Over the past seven years, Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show has proven to be a successful event at which exhibitors have sold a wide range of products and services from boats to marine gear, accessories, clothing, outdoor furniture, food and much more.
The show is also excellent at generating sales leads for exhibitors. Not everyone wants to buy a boat or a property, for example, there and then at the show. Customers can use the show to meet the seller, see the product first-hand and find out more, then follow-up post show with further inspections or sea trials before making a purchase.
2) Reach New Customers
Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show has a unique visitor demographic. While some exhibitions may rely on a transient international visitor market, Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show is successful in attracting an engaged and influential Thai audience from Bangkok and the East Coast.
For savvy boat brands and brokers, reaching Thai buyers has become a top priority and Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show provides a unique opportunity to do so. And with the family-friendly festival like atmosphere over the four day show, the East Coast community turn out in numbers providing an ideal opportunity for boat brands and brokers to introduce the boating lifestyle to new customers. For food stalls and other exhibitors they can target the 6,000 expected visitors that will enjoy the show in 2019.
3) The Personal Touch
With the digitization of the world today, face-to-face marketing is being replaced by marketing-from-a-distance. There is, however, no replacement for the personal touch: meeting a potential customer face-to-face, shaking their hand, connecting with them on a personal level, answering their questions and needs and sharing advice, is a much more powerful way to market. It is also the best way to close a deal and to develop relationships with clients long-term. A 30ft boat purchaser today may by an 80ft buyer in the not-so-distant future, so it pays to give the personal touch.
4) Showcase New Products and Services
Retaining clients is important in any industry, but retaining them over a period of time while being able to keep them excited about your product or service can be very difficult. Sharing details of a new model or an upgrade on a current model is a great way to keep a customer interested and loyal to your brand. Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show provides an opportunity for businesses to showcase their latest products whether it be a new boat model, a new interior package for a condominium, or a new range of outdoor furniture products.
5) Listen to Customer Feedback
Feedback forms have their place, comments on a social media post my be relevant, but face-to-face feedback from a customer (or potential customer) is invaluable. A boat show doesn’t have to be all about the sell, it can also provide an opportunity for exhibitors to meet their current customers and seek direct customer feedback.
6) New Show Layout and Large Under Roof Area
One major change at this year’s show is the overall design and visitor flow. A new onshore layout will mean visitors get to see all the exhibitor booths and displays, while a new tent concept will provide larger under-roof spaces and shade making it more comfortable for exhibitors, and ensuring visitors to spend more time at the displays.