Taiwan delegation promotes its boat show at Miami's
By Scott Blake
Multimillion-dollar yachts don't usually come to mind when US consumers think about the "Made in Taiwan" label.
However, a delegation from the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung is hoping to change that. The group was in South Florida last week for the 2012 Miami International Boat Show and to meet with Port Miami officials, among other stops.
Part of the group's mission was to raise awareness that Taiwan and, more specifically, Kaohsiung are a force to be reckoned with in the marine and yachting industries — or at least that's what they're shooting for. Their message was that Kaohsiung has its share of successful yacht builders and, if all goes according to plan, the city will host its own international boat show in 2014.
Aside from touting their latest models at Miami's boat show, the group came to spread the word about the proposed Taiwan show and to work on getting some commitments from exhibitors to participate.
"We'd like to set up some relationships with the marine industry here," John Lu, founder and CEO of Horizon Yachts Co., Asia's largest super-yacht builder, told Miami Today.
In 2010, Mr. Lu and other Taiwanese yacht builders signed an agreement with the city of Kaohsiung to raise their investment in Kaohsiung and to take advantage of plans that city officials have made to aid development of the yacht industry there.
Currently, Mr. Lu said, China and Australia are the big growth markets for Horizon Yachts. Still, Horizon's boat sales in the US account for about 20% of the company's total. The company also has a focus on South Florida, having opened an office in West Palm Beach about three years ago, he said.
Horizon has been in business about 25 years, and South Florida has long been a key market for the company. Today, Horizon's yachts range in price from $1 million to $30 million, with vessels up to 115 feet long.
Meanwhile, the Kaohsiung delegation, led by Mayor Chu Chen, was slated Friday to visit Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, followed by a international sister port signing at Port Miami, officially linking Miami-Dade County's seaport with the Port of Kaohsiung. One purpose of the ceremony was to discuss how to strengthen ties between the two ports.
The Port of Kaohsiung is Taiwan's largest seaport, and Kaohsiung is the nation's second-largest city with a population of about 2.9 million.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, who was expected to attend the sister port ceremony, said: "Taiwan is an important trading partner and we look forward to future growth."
On Saturday, the Kaohsiung delegation was to tour the boat show in Miami Beach. Taiwan was to be among the show's 200 exhibitors with its own pavilion. In addition, the group was to sign a letter of intent for cooperation on the proposed Kaohsiung boat show, followed by a tour of a Taiwanese yacht.
About 10 Taiwanese companies in the marine and yachting business were represented during the Miami trip, Mr. Lu said, with a focus on stirring interest in the proposed 2014 boat show in Taiwan.
He added: "Taiwan is now building a convention center [in Kaohsiung] like the one here."
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