New full-service marinas to be developed in Malta for the high- end superyacht market

Making Malta the jurisdiction of choice for the niche superyacht industry by fostering a sustainable ecosystem supported by reliable infrastructure, quality services and a skilled workforce – this is the key factor of the Malta Government's new strategic vision for the further development of the maritime sector on the Maltese Islands.

Over the last 16 years, the number of superyachts exceeding 24 meters registered under the Merchant Shipping Act in Malta has surged from just over 100 in 2007 to over 1,100 in August 2023.

Around 70% of the world's superyachts sail in the Mediterranean throughout the whole year, with marinas generally close to full capacity, especially in the Western European Mediterranean countries during the high season.

A consultation process involving industry stakeholders in Malta was initiated back in October 2022, resulting in a strategic vision document, which was presented in November 2023 by the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects.

Investment in maritime infrastructure – new locations for yacht marinas

The Maltese Government plans to upgrade and develop a holistic infrastructure for the superyacht industry, including transportation systems, landscaping and new facilities, both at sea and ashore.

On the basis of a feasibility study the geographical location of potential new sites, tenure of land, the infrastructure required and any associated natural constraints will be identified. Infrastructural upgrades will be looked into and necessary zoning plans for yachting areas will be developed.

Thus, the Government not only wants to facilitate the construction of new full-service marinas catering to the needs of the high-end superyacht market and adhere to international best practices for sustainable development, but also further develop quality certifications and by doing so strengthen the Malta Flag as a jurisdiction of world repute.

To enable and support this process, investors will be sourced to facilitate the construction of new marinas. This is likely to contribute to further economic growth in Malta.

Malta: Maritime hub and ecosystem of excellence

Today the yacht and superyacht industries in Malta are served by marinas, yards, full-scope service agencies, yacht management companies, repair and maintenance outfits, training academies, engineering services and a considerable number of service providers specialised in maritime registration, legal, tax, corporate, insurance, financing, surveying and other supporting functions for the industry.

Building on Malta's ingrained identity as a maritime nation, the country has started to examine in detail the future potential it holds as a leading superyacht hub in the Mediterranean.

The new strategic vision aims at allowing the country to explore the options through which the economic contribution of the superyacht industry can support the sustainable development of Malta by increasing the country's competitiveness as a player in this sector.

Legal and regulatory framework

When it comes to registering superyachts, Malta has national superyacht registration laws and regulations in place, making the registration under the Malta Flag a streamlined process.

Still, some observations emerged until now in the consultation process:

  • 1. A Better co-ordination of the submission of documents between the different competent authorities such as the Malta Business Registry, the Commissioner for Revenue and Transport Malta would be required;
  • 2. The need for digitalisation to refine and take the process of registering superyachts in Malta and the subsequent processes to the next level is given;
  • 3. The introduction of a system of e-certification for the registry of commercial vessel certification (CVC) and commercial vessel operator license (CVOL) is needed to lead to speedier application processing.

Kresse Law and Kresse Maritime Experts (KME) will further strengthen their focus on the sector in 2024 and the years ahead.

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