Foreigners in Seychelles can hold shares in a yachting company or own a yacht depending on how large the fleet is and the length of the boat in line with a revised policy, said a top government official.
"If a yacht charter company only has one to three yachts in its fleet, the company must be Seychellois-owned in its totality and foreigners are restricted from participating," the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Anne Lafortune, told reporters last week.
She said that if there is a fleet of four to five yachts in the company, then the Seychellois shareholder can hold the majority, at least 51 percent shares, and the other 49 percent can be offered to foreign partners.
The policy also makes provision for a yacht charter company to be 100 percent foreign-owned if the fleet exceeds six yachts. However, as there is increasing demand for superyachts, Lafortune said a foreigner can be the sole owner of a yacht charter company with only one vessel which is more than 24 metres and costs at least $2 million.
The cabinet approved the revised Yacht Charter Policy last Wednesday which provides guidelines and provisions for the yachting tourism industry in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
The policy sets out the regulations pertaining to business structures within the industry. It also defines three types of yacht charter services available in the island nation: bareboat charters, skippered charters and crewed charters.
Bareboat charters are the hiring of a boat of which no crew or provisions are included as part of the agreement; the people who rent the vessel are responsible for taking care of such things. A skippered charter is a boat rented with a professional crew consisting of a skipper/captain who is responsible for the manoeuvring of the yacht. Crewed Charters include the captain and crew to operate the boat and provision for meals and cleaning.
Seychelles has an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres and the revised policy imposes a restriction on the number of yachts in the island nation's waters.
"Although very vast, we do not want overexploitation of our marine resources. Therefore, the limit is 200 yachts and any one company can only have a maximum of 30 yachts," said Lafortune.
Next year a carrying capacity study for the Seychelles' waters will be done around the inner and outer islands "so we can better decide if we need to review the policy, and as an indication of how our seas are faring," added the principal secretary.
Lafortune also urges for charter companies to visit outlying islands instead of only those close to the main island of Mahe.
She added that the government is working towards making available amenities on those islands to encourage more visitors to explore.