BEIJING, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Industry insiders have called for making yachting more accessible to the general public during a yacht exhibition held in the first half of this month in northern China.
Due to the high cost of buying and maintaining yachts, as well as costs associated with obtaining the proper certifications and licenses, yachts are mostly purchased by high-end consumer groups.
Zhao Tiebiao, manager of the exhibition held in the northern China port city of Tianjin, said more than 50 yacht enterprises offering more than 100 yacht brands attended the exhibition.
The Chinese dealer for Italian brand Azimut also appeared at the exhibition.
Li Minjing, manager of China's Azimut dealer, said the company's yachts are oriented toward the consumer elite, as most Azimut yachts cost more than 8 million yuan (1.27 million U.S. dollars), after taxes.
"Although the price is much higher than what common people can afford, we sell three or four each year," Li added.
Dong Feng received a free ticket for the exhibition from a friend, but he felt even further away from owning one after browsing the displays.
"The maintenance fees alone are equal to my entire yearly income, not to mention the price of the yacht itself," Dong said. "We common people can not afford yachts."
According to an exhibitor, a 200,000 yuan yacht may not be a huge sum for a middle-class family, but other costs require far more money, including certifications costing 10,000 yuan, several hundred liters of gasoline for one trip at sea and over 100,000 yuan in anchoring fees annually.
Many exhibitors said the majority of yacht buyers own tourism businesses and other enterprises. They are usually not so concerned about price, but they are keen on a yacht's shape, speed and comfort level -- a trend that is perfectly in line with luxury consumption, in general.
"We sell 30 yachts at a wide range of prices each year, including some sold for 43 million yuan," said Sheng Tang, manager of Zhejiang Shengshi Yachts Company. "Although the number sold is not high, we earn a respectable profit."
According to statistics from the exhibition, China is expected to see a dramatic increase in yacht ownership and the value of the industry is expected to reach 150 billion yuan over the next decade.
Xie Yilou, deputy head of the Hainan Yachting Association, said relevant facilities, including public piers and open sea waters, should be improved in order to change the image of yachting, which has long been regarded by the public as a luxury leisure activity reserved for the elite.
He suggested that people could chip in on one expensive yacht and divvy up their yachting time.
"For example, 10 people could buy one yacht at 10 million yuan. Then, each owns 10 percent of the property and each goes yachting for 10 days at separate times," Xie said.
They could rent the yacht to others to operate during the remaining days of the year, a move that could cover anchoring and maintenance fees and generate a return of about 5 percent, he added.
"In this way, yachting could really be accessible for more people," Xie said.