Is Rovinj Best Place for Big Yachts in Croatia? Apparently…

Lauren Simmonds

Could Istria be the next big thing for mega-yachts and their owners?

As Glas Istre writes on the 25th of March, 2018, mega-yacht owners are probably the most demanding clientele in the world today by far. They spend a lot of money wherever they go, and they know how to live big, in all senses of the word. Where mega-yachts are located, and especially where they moor for winter and in their preparations during the pre-season, there are numerous great benefits to be had. The annual total spent on the maintenance of mega-yachts is measured in hundreds of millions of euros, and for some located along the Northern part of the Adriatic, the question arises as to why these jobs and services are not redirected to… Istria.

“Our core business is providing services and assistance in interaction with yachts, their extended hand on the land. We arrange berths and the accompanying documentation for owners, as well as navigation and charter permits, we prepare ships for service, we take care of the crew… When we do this for the mega-yacht owners, we ensure that everything they want is at their disposal. Whatever comes to their minds, we try to make it happen. We’re trying to create unforgettable moments, a sense of navigation that will never be forgotten… My company, Simmor, part of the Cosulich Group, the largest maritime agency in the world, has concessions throughout the Adriatic and five strategically distributed offices in Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik. We’re working with world businessmen, the ultra-rich, everyone who needs our services on the Adriatic, and there are more and more of them,” stated Captain Andrija Šimić, a Rijeka local, owing to whom the port is at the point of overbooking – meaning there is now a bigger demand for megayachts in relation to the capacities available.

Nautical potential

The situation now is one that couldn’t have even been imagined a few years ago. The port of Rijeka was neglected, and its development was hindered by several hampering factors. The ever-ambitious Andrija Šimić, who spent part of his naval career as a captain on a 56-mega mega-yacht belonging to an Italian billionaire, could provide the turning point for how these gigantic vessels are dealt with on the Adriatic.

With captain Šimić, who just returned from a trip to Malta where he held a professional lecture and who lives on the move between Rijeka, Viareggia, Monte Carlo and summer in the whole Adriatic, Glas Istre talked about the relatively untapped nautical potential of the Northern Adriatic, namely Rijeka and its nearest islands, as well as Istria. He argues that in the summer months, especially in the south, and in large part in the central Adriatic, things are overcapacitated, new opportunities for the Northern Adriatic region could be opened up.

”In the summer, there are incredible crowds in the south, and in the central and Northern Adriatic, those crowds are much smaller. Statistically, the arrival of yachts in the Northern Adriatic is not huge and is far smaller than it is in the south. For example, from a hypothetical 100 mega-yachts, all 100 will visit Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar. After Split, there is a very weak perception of the central and Northern Adriatic for mega-yachts. Of those 100, maybe 30 will come to Zadar and Kornati, and then, going north, there’s an even bigger slump,” noted Šimić.

He claims that Istria finds itself in a positive situation due to the large concentration of mega-yachts in Venice which eventually gravitate towards that region. But in general, the situation for Istria and the Northern Adriatic could and should be rectified.

”All of this goes in Istria’s favour that it should be branded as a new and desirable location for mega-yachts. We have to propose, and we’ll do this through the world yachting organisation, new itineraries for weekly charter flights that start from Umag and end in Zadar, or from Dubrovnik to Split. So nobody would be left out along the way. Soon, I’m planning a meeting with all the port authorities to see what can be done in order to do it. I’m planning a publication that would cover and promote the Northern Adriatic and Istria, all with the aim of attracting about 4,000 mega-yachts, our potential customers to this area. But the summer period, which is most thought of as a key part of the year, is just one business dimension. The second part refers to the attempt to retain the mega-yachts during the winter months. The more the owners are familiar with Istria, the more likely they’ll be to look for the possibility of staying in that area. Our goal is for them to station there, for them to no longer go to Italy, France, Montenegro and Greece,” concluded Šimić.


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