HKBIA - Hong Kong Boating Industry Association
Sevenstar Yacht Transport is member of the Hong Kong Boating Industry Association. Hong Kong has had a long and prestigious maritime history, and is today still one of the busiest ports in the world. The June 2017 HKTDC Maritime Services Industry update states that in 2016 Hong Kong was the world's 7th largest trading economy and the world's fourth largest shipping register after Panama, Liberia and Marshall Islands. The industry, which also includes ship services, is well supported by trade associations, local government and international communities/standards. As an example: in 2014 the HK government set up a $100m Maritime & Aviation Training Fund and in 2016 the Hong Kong Maritime & Port Board was established to foster advancement in training, standards and international recognition.
The leisure marine industry, in comparison has little to no support. Whilst certainly not as large in turnover nor perhaps as directly lucrative to the government, it is still a substantial industry involving many participants and has a significant role to play in the local economy, and potentially on the international stage. Whilst there are no figures available for overall turnover, we can have some gauge of size from the fact there were 9,748 are leisure boats registered in Hong Kong and an unknown but large number of legally unregistered boats. These numbers would probably be significantly higher if there were more than the 5,000 listed private, public and dry berths currently available (Mardep. stats as quoted by SCMP 5 July 2017). Yet, with all this potential, the industry has remained under-optimised, under-represented and mostly unrecognised both at home and internationally.
In particular there appears to be a lack of understanding by the HK Government of the requirements which would help to both support and expand the industry to its full potential. This is not necessarily the fault of the Marine Department - whilst undoubtedly their focus is on commercial shipping, they also do their best to implement safety and standards and respond to voiced conerns within leisure marine. One of the main issues is that the majority of the industry is made up of individual practitioners and small to medium companies, so their opinion rarely gets heard. Indeed, before now, there has been no cohesive and fully representative body to approach the Government with one voice to clearly define industry interests, request industry-wide support and relay any specific industry concerns.
The HKBIA has been established to rectify this situation. This is the first time in Hong Kong that such a body has been created with the aim to provide a fully accessible, fully representative, industry-wide association that will be elected and run by its members. To this end, it is critical going forward that this association will be self-governing according to an agreed constitution; that it has member-elected committee participants; and that it has a large number and broad spectrum of general members. Only with this level of professionalism will we be fully recognised both locally and internationally and be able to approach Government and other bodies with the authority to speak on behalf of industry participants.