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Old 22-03-2012, 19:43   #1
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Question Starting a Charter Business

Hi. I'm new to this site, a first time user so if I get it wrong let me know.
I have a 44ft sailing cat, I'm in Phuket, Thailand and would like to start a charter business here. Any advise would be welcome.
How do I do this?
Who do I need to contact?
Is it viable?
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Old 31-03-2012, 17:10   #2
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Re: Starting a charter business

Aloha and welcome aboard!
Good to have you here and asking valid questions. I'm sorry I don't have the answers but there might be others who will respond.
kind regards,
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Old 31-03-2012, 18:21   #3
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Re: Starting a charter business

Welcome to CF Julius
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Old 31-03-2012, 19:01   #4
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Re: Starting a charter business

First you contact the Thai government. Find out what licensing you will need for the business, for the boat (it may have to be Thai flagged), for the captain.

If you have to ask...you'll need to leaern marketing, or go broke. Learn the regulations, or pay big fines. And meet the competition, because there's almost always competition if there's a viable market. As a one-man shop...what do you do when you've got a charter booked, but something on the boat is broken?

Unless you've worked for a charter operation and have some experience with all the areas of the business, you may need an awful lot of luck to make it happen.
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Old 31-03-2012, 19:09   #5
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Re: Starting a charter business

Quote:
Originally Posted by Julius Katzke View Post
Hi. I'm new to this site, a first time user so if I get it wrong let me know.
I have a 44ft sailing cat, I'm in Phuket, Thailand and would like to start a charter business here. Any advise would be welcome.
How do I do this?
Who do I need to contact?
Is it viable?
Julius:

I've been thinking about starting a charter business for a few years but, have not moved forward on it yet for a number of reasons. One is I do still get some freelance work in my original vocation (electronics) which helps pay the bills and also allows me to be part of a group health insurance plan at a "reasonable" cost. I often get work during the summer which of course is when my charter business would probaly be busiest. So until the freelance work dries up there has not been an urgency to start up the charter business and pay the additional expenses to start it up.

What I can tell you it is a tough business. I was only planning on day and sunset charters mostly. From what I could gather if I could break even I would be doing good. There were some advantages in writing off some boat expenses. But, there were additional up front expenses like more expensive insurance premiums. I would need a new survey too and that is all before you try and get the passengers on board. I would not try it without making sure you have all your insurance bases covered. Including liability.

If you are doing weekly charters I would expect you will be working quite hard. You will have a floating bed & breakfast, lunch and dinner. But, unlike a land based operation you probably won't be able to call the local handyman for help. So you'll be fixing heads, engines etc... while trying to keep the guests happy.

Part of me says it could be a fun way to help pay for some boat expenses and show people how wonderful sailing is. But, weather may not always be your friend. Plus you may have people on board not all of whom really want to be there. Couples redfining their relationships etc... Things are going to break and people are going to lose things over the side and I'm not just talking about their lunch but, stuff you bought. Fishing poles, snorkle masks and fins etc... so you need to carry extra stuff to have backups.

You may want to have a broker(s) do your booking but, of course they will take a cut too! But, it allows you to concentrate on your charter and not spend all your time answering questions from people who are just thinking about a charter.

My gal and I do go on a lot of charter vacations and crews do work hard. We are fairly easy going and really only want to eat, snorkle, eat, nap, snorkle, have sundowner drinks, eat, sleep and repeat. We hardly get off the boat. But, others may want to hit the town, shop, bars etc... You will
be at their beck and call no matter how tired you are or what you really need to fix. Others I'm sure can more specific about the good and bad of the biz.
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Old 31-03-2012, 19:23   #6
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Hereis a primer on starting a business in Thailand.

http://www.mfa.go.th/internet/document/h_sec5fin.pdf

Note that while this primer is in English all filings will have to be done in Thai. I would recommend you navigate carefully and engage a Thai lawyer experienced in such matters.

Note - Starting a business is separate from immigration and customs laws. Many people think that if they start a business in an Asian country they will automatically qualify for a work permit and visa. This is not necessarily true. Additionally you will have to research Thai maritime law. It may be that you cannot run a charter from a foreign flagged boat and will have to import your boat and probably pay associated taxes.

So the dimensions I would be thinking about are...

- -Business license
- Personal work permits and visas
- boat registration, licensing and insurance and probable importation taxes
- It also appears you have to take 3 Thai partners for for businesses arranged in certain ways. Do you know any thais?

Now just an observation - there are lots of locals doing charters. You may believe you can offer a unique charter experience and maybe that is true. You will be competing in some pretty well populated turf and may not be welcome.

Fnally overall I think a good way to make a small fortune chartering inThailand is to start with a large fortune.

I have friends with businesses in Thailand in every case (where it is a small proprietership) the friend has a Thai wife and knows Thailand very well. If a couple of farangs show up in a boat and start a charter business without playing the local culture game it will be interesting to watch.
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Old 31-03-2012, 19:25   #7
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Re: Starting a charter business

Nice post Mbianka, very informative.
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Old 31-03-2012, 20:17   #8
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Re: Starting a charter business

Sabaidee Julius

You pose an interesting question. I have just completed my bareback boat certificate thro YachtPro in Phukhet. They also have a significant charter business which seems quite busy. With boats in the 32-44 foot range from $300 to $600 per day depending on season and size.

You are looking at around $400 a month for a marina berth at Yacht Haven in the north east of the island.

I actually live in Laos, but I miss the ocean and I have been thinking of buying a boat which I can berth at Phukhet for my "away time" and perhaps charter out when I am not using it. I dont want to make buckets of money, just cover some costs. Its only at the "idea" stage but I would be interested in your experiences.
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Old 31-03-2012, 20:46   #9
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Re: Starting a charter business

Thailand sounds like it'd be a tough go. What about other countries? Mexico, Central America, Aus or ? Where would a guy have the best shot at a successful charter bis?
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Old 01-04-2012, 04:39   #10
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Re: Starting a Charter Business

From memory (vague!) the Skipper of a Thai registered boat needs to be a Thai (regs probably written for ships, I suspect also applicable to anything commercially operating in Thai Waters - wherever registered) - I am guess self skippered charters are different, but would check out the owner as skipper charter rules carefully if that is what you intend (and I wouldn't rely on others ducking any rules to keep you out of trouble).

At the risk of being unhelpful, IMO the answer is: "if you need to ask........".

My best advice to doing business in Thailand is: "have a spare shirt".
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Old 06-03-2013, 06:47   #11
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Re: Starting a Charter Boat Business- including Indonesia

HI there I am new to the forums here so hi ,

So having just read this thread I wanted to ask a question Additionally to the current thread, I was wondering if anyone knows whats needed to operate a Charter Boat business through both Thailand waters and Indonesian waters.

I'm currently looking into a charter boat and was entertaining the idea of splitting the year in 2 and operating out of both Thailand and Indonesia.

Can that be set up legally ? does anyone have an idea on whats needed to do this? Would you have to operate with 2 flags?

Ideally we would also like to stretch out into Myanmar as well ?

Any Help here very much appreciated in advance.
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:58   #12
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Re: Starting a Charter Business

You can't operate one vessel with two flags. It is always one vessel, one sovereign, one flag.

What you will need to do will probably depend on how long you operate, whether you operate between two locations all the time, or stay within just one jurisdiction for your trips, and other local issues. And then your corporate structure and issues like holding companies might make significant differences in both operating considerations and taxes.

I'd really suggest starting with the consulates and getting firsthand information about the maritime commercial regulations and business regulations in both countries. And your own citizenship may also affect how and where you will or won't be allowed to operate.
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Old 06-03-2013, 10:51   #13
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Re: Starting a Charter Business

Hire a local lawyer that specializes in this kind of business/registration/licensing.

If you speak Thai, you can try going the path by yourself.

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Old 02-04-2013, 05:06   #14
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Re: Starting a Charter Business

Having run a charter business here for 5 years I recommend you buy an existing business and mould it to fit your needs. You WILL need a Thai registered vessel But there is no import duty on boats only 7% vat. Its complicated but if you know the right people its not that bad.
I would stay vary wary of Tha Lawyers LOL
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