HISWA : Flying the Dutch flag on superyachts in 2017: Fact or fiction?
HISWA Holland Marine Industry originally developed the ‘Commercial Cruising Vessel Project (CCV)’ in 2007. This confirmed that the Netherlands had built up an excellent position in superyacht new builds due not only to its renowned quality and innovative capacity but also a unique cooperation in the chain of shipyards, suppliers, naval architects and research institutes. Their success was based upon a blend of individuality and daring, one which was neatly summarised in a 1970s slogan by Wolter Huisman, legendary CEO of Royal Huisman Shipyard: ‘If you can dream it, we can build it’.
But is it sufficient to keep focusing on new builds without giving the service industry involved in these highly complex yachts the attention it deserves? Shouldn’t we put more emphasis on the highly lucrative refit market? Or increase our focus on the client, transparency in operational management and fiscal conditions of the flag under which yachts sail? And how about the quality of the crew, and the established positions of brokers, designers, yacht managers and owners representatives?
Ten years ago HISWA started the CCV project to provide an alternative for parties outside of the Netherlands who contributed to the superyacht industry. Dutch flags on the stern of these yachts were the means to an end as long as the yachts were operated from the Netherlands. Transparent agreements with the Dutch tax authorities within the framework of a competitive VAT status and the option to professionally operate the ‘shipping company function’ were some of the goals involved. The concept behind CCV was to encompass more than new builds alone. Another part of the idea was to develop a North-West European superyacht route which could serve as an alternative to sailing regions such as the Mediterranean.
The superyacht market is changing rapidly and an idea that seemed a little ahead of its time in 2008 (especially as it coincided with the start of the global economic crisis) might now be a good option. New clients are demanding certainty in every field, and the industry will have to provide reliability, hard guarantees, high resale values and transparency. This is why we are re-launching ‘one stop shopping under the Dutch flag. And this time we do so with the full support of the Dutch government: this embraced CCV as both an ambition and opportunity in its broad National Maritime Strategy last year and will implement this decision in the years to come.
As I write we are working hard to tie up a few loose ends so that the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment can reintroduce ‘Flying the Dutch Flag’ at the HISWA Holland Yachting Group Pavilion during the METSTRADE Show in Amsterdam.
If it is up to me, more and more superyachts will be flying the Dutch flag as of 2017. Fact, not fiction.