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.