by Zoe Carlton
English Harbour is abuzz as superyachts descend upon Antigua for the prestigious Antigua Charter Yacht Show, the zenith of opulent yachting. This exclusive event, nestled in the heart of the Caribbean, unites stunning yachts, savvy brokers, and diligent crews in a maritime extravaganza tailored for the industry.
Antigua, with its turquoise waters, sets the stage for a spectacle of the most luxurious yachts globally. Brokers converge to assess, rate, and facilitate the rental of these extravagant vessels, creating a diverse showcase from modern to classic against the picturesque backdrop of Antigua.
For brokers, this show is a golden opportunity to forge connections with yacht owners and crews, delving into each vessel’s intricacies. It transcends mere business, offering firsthand exploration of luxurious interiors and top-notch features, accompanied by champagne and canapés. This hands-on approach enables brokers to provide personalized advice, enhancing the entire yacht charter experience.
Despite its exclusive nature, the show’s positive impacts extend to the local community, providing an economic boost and promotional platform for the island. Local businesses flourish, experiencing increased activity in restaurants, provisioners, and boat-related services.
For aspiring sailors at the National Sailing Academy and the Antigua Yacht Club, the show serves as a window into potential sailing careers as they navigate their Optimists and Lasers through Falmouth Harbour’s waters.
The showcase of lavish yachts against Antigua’s stunning scenery captures global attention, attracting not only yachting enthusiasts but also those interested in exploring the island’s unique beauty and culture. This publicity positions Antigua as a premier destination, potentially increasing tourism beyond the yachting community.
The government of Antigua and Barbuda rightfully celebrates the international reputation garnered by the sailing show, recognizing its role in boosting the island’s visibility and kick-starting the winter sailing season as more huge boats glide in daily.
However, amid the exclusivity, a question lingers: Is Antigua missing an opportunity to transform the yacht show into a platform for inclusivity? While exclusivity is vital for a business show, to exclude local journalists, however connected with the industry, whose journalism is not limited to Antigua itself, is to miss an opportunity of wider recognition.
The event could play a significant role in education and skill development. The backdrop of luxury yachts offers a unique setting to introduce young people to diverse career opportunities.
The crew of one such boat welcomed a trio of local girls wanting to learn. The chef prepared special cookies, the stewards showed them around, the skipper gave them t-shirts, even the owner talked to them. “We welcome the chance to show kids what it’s really like” said the skipper as the stewardesses posed for the camera with the girls. Having been embraced onto a number of boats, these three girls are now on their way towards careers in the industry.
Aligning with global trends of sustainable tourism, this approach not only contributes to responsible practices but also nurtures a skilled workforce, fostering long-term economic stability.
Beyond its opulent facade, the Antigua Charter Yacht Show holds the potential to be a catalyst for positive change. By leveraging economic benefits, global visibility, and fostering community engagement, the event can evolve into a force for sustainable development, benefiting both international participants and the local residents of this Caribbean gem.
Find out about the yachts that will be at this year’s show: Yachts | Antigua Charter Yacht Meeting (antiguayachtshow.com)