Representatives from the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry oversee a display at the Monaco Yacht Show. (Photo: VISR)

Officials on Friday touted their recent visit to the 32nd annual Monaco Yacht Show and reiterated their intention to continue marketing the territory as a destination for the world’s most luxurious superyachts to visit and register.

“We were pleased with the outcome at Monaco, and we will continue to do our best to grow the flag and to grow the ship registration business for the VI,” Virgin Islands Shipping Registry Director John Samuel said during a press conference at the Premier’s Office. “Monaco is one stop on our annual marketing tour. Two weeks before Monaco, we had a booth in Southampton. We have staff leaving this weekend for Annapolis.”

Fourth time

This is the fourth time the territory has participated in the Monaco show, according to Mr. Samuel, who added that this year’s event was the largest he’s seen.

Junior Minister for Culture and Tourism Luce Hodge-Smith stressed the importance of ensuring that the territory’s shipping register is “visible at all times” in order to attract more registrations.

Legislators recently passed a law designed to establish the VISR as a statutory body led by an autonomous board. That
move was also part of the ongoing efforts to attract more vessel registrations in the territory.

Mr. Samuel said that many “potential direct leads” were gleaned from the show and that the registry now must follow up on the expressions of interest it received. Ms. Hodge-Smith added that it will take time to see results, but that attending the show was worth it.

“The investment used to travel to Monaco affords the Shipping Registry the opportunity to bear fruit in the very near future,” she said. “I label the [VI’s] participation in the Monaco Boat Show as a huge success for many reasons. It was an opportunity to let the industry know that the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry is alive and well, and it’s still in the game.”

The delegation

The VI delegation included Mr. Samuel, Ms. Hodge-Smith, and Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley, among others.

Asked by media how much the trip cost overall, Dr. Wheatley said that he didn’t have the exact figures.

“It is tax money. Of course, people deserve to know how the money has been spent, and also people can be reassured that there’s greater cost of not attending [the show] than to attending,” he said. “If you think it’s expensive to go and market the jurisdiction: It’s much more costly not to do it and to sit down and expect that business will fall in your lap. … If you’re going to build our economy and we want to be involved in a global industry, you have to be willing to travel to where the business is.”

30,000 people

The annual show — which was launched in 1991 and is held in Port Hercules — draws over 30,000 people and more than 500 boats from across the world, according to its website.

“[It’s] the premier world event for the superyacht industry vessels over 20 metres in length,” the premier said. “The [VI] has been a regular participant in the Monaco Yacht Show. However, we have not attended since 2017 due to hurricanes and the Covid-19 pandemic. That is a seven-year absence from the most prestigious global forum in the superyacht industry.”

He added that consistent attendance at the show is critical for the territory.

“If after this year, next year, we are not seeing significant growth in the registry, we’ll have to question whether the strategy is successful or not,” he said. “If you’re not there, you’re not in the game.”