Expert Speak: Mr. Simon J Arrol, Marina India

Simon Arrol

Describe sales in the pleasure boating market over the past 5 years.
As far as the saltwater market goes most sales have been in Mumbai area, and certainly it is in this harbour that one sees the greatest concentration of yachts. At present, motor yachts outsell sailing yachts about 1:6, although I believe that this will reduce to about 1:4 in future years, especially as marinas come on-stream and people appreciate the many pleasures and lifestyle aspects of the modern sailing cruiser. I don’t have any data on freshwater boat sales but when one considers the enormous areas of navigable lakes and rivers in this country then the potential is certainly there.

What is your vision in the next 5 years?
The single most important thing is to build marinas. Marinas are the infrastructure of the yachting industry, providing a safe and convenient place to keep and maintain your boat.

What India lacks is infrastructure – where do you foresee the first marina?
Probably in Goa because I think that the Government there understands how important yachting could be for its tourism sector. Certainly the greatest cry at the moment is for a marina in Mumbai, and efforts are being made on a number of fronts. But in a congested and still rapidly expanding city securing the necessary waterfront land is very difficult.

Would you recommend temporary pontoon structures as boating in India is called off for 4 months in a year due to the monsoons?
The whole point of a marina is that it provides safe berthing 365 days a year. It may be unsafe to go out boating during the monsoon but the fundamental point is that the yachts should remain safe inside the marina. Therefore your point about “temporary pontoon structures” does not arise. The pontoons are the key element of the marina and although they float they are to all intents and purposes permanent.

Currently, Mumbai is the pleasure boating nucleus. Will Goa or Cochin take its place in the future?
It is a fact of nature that both Goa and Cochin offer superb cruising waters, much better than Mumbai. But one should not forget that the coastline between Mumbai and Goa is quite splendid, and I hope to see a number of facilities springing up in the years ahead to serve the cruising yacht.

With a potential market in the interiors of India – any game plan for sales & marina development along/around the lakes & rivers within India?
We are definitely looking into this, although it is a significant task by virtue of the sheer size of the country. But we would love to hear from anyone who has a lake or river in need of a marina and yachting action.

What can one hope for as boating steadily develops in the Mumbai Harbor?
As I have said before, a full service marina and boatyard is essential to the development of boating. It will provide the base for all the activities and businesses, and a hub for social interaction. I also hope to see an improved attitude towards safety; this is something that needs to be tackled through training boat owners and their crews.

Government intervention is necessary for infrastructure development else the industry will proceed on its slow crawl. Comment
In my opinion the main role of Government should be to facilitate marina development. It can do this by making suitable sites available on reasonable financial terms and by helping to expedite the necessary consents. Generally speaking the private sector can be relied upon to provide the financing. If one looks at other countries around the world one sees many examples of the importance of the yachting sector in terms of job creation, recreation and sportsmanship, tourism, and youth training. Yachting is a healthy, non-polluting, and economically beneficial pastime and one would hope that it will receive the political and administrative support in India that it receives in many other countries.

Simon J Arrol is acknowledged internationally as an expert in the field of marina development and operation. A graduate of the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology, he is a chartered engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Great Britain. Following 17years in the dredging and harbour-works industry, Arrol became Managing Director of the marinas division of Camper & Nicholsons (established 1782). He has undertaken assignments in 27 countries and has managed marinas in 6 countries, including a group of marinas in the UK. In 2005 he was a founding director of Island Global Yachting in the UAE, designing marinas for some of Dubai’s mega-projects including Palm Island and Festival City. He is currently Technical Director of Marina India which is headquartered in Mumbai.



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