Large yachts and megayachts will no longer need to pay import duty in Gibraltar, a move that megayacht-industry representatives and marinas alike are saying should help stimulate more visits.
On Monday, Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, presented his first budget, which included abolishing the import duty on yachts measuring 59 feet (18 meters) and larger. Previously, yachts and megayachts were classed according to gross tonnage, with ones of 80 gross tons or less paying 12-percent duty. While ones of more than 80 gross tons didn’t have to pay duty, the classification according to tonnage vs. LOA apparently caused confusion. In addition, in nearby Spain, a 12-percent matriculation tax is levied against all recreational boats of 26 feet (8 meters) and more, on top of VAT. Due to Gibraltar’s rule change and Spain’s tax, some in the megayacht industry believe Gibraltar will be a more desirable destination, not just a stop-over point.
Ocean Village, a marina on the west side of Gibraltar, is among the areas hoping to benefit. It created some “Premier Berths” specifically to accommodate the number of megayachts stopping in Gibraltar to refuel (tax-free) and/or venture to the Med after crossing the Atlantic. These Premier Berths can handle megayachts to 262 feet (80 meters) and more. They further have 24-hour security via patrols and CCTV, coded entry gates, WiFi, secretarial services, and more. In terms of Ocean Village’s overall appeal, it has a handful of restaurants, bars, and shops, plus a casino.
Ros Astengo, Ocean Village’s business-development manager, says, “Due to our strategic location at the gateway between the Mediterranean and Atlantic, we have always attracted an endless stream of superyachts, but they spend limited time in Gibraltar. By reducing the duty and exempting it above 18 meters, the Government is sending a clear message that there is no longer an incentive for resident vessel owners to keep their yachts outside Gibraltar. And, if Gibraltar attracts even just a small percentage of the long-term berthing required by the superyacht sector, we will receive economic stimulus in a sector that, despite competitively priced berths, tax-free fuel, and Category 1 Red Ensign Group status, remains relatively untapped.”