Fiji could become one of the world’s top destinations for cruising yachts, says a leading figure in the international yachting industry.

Blue Water Rallies Limited director Peter Seymour said the country had established itself as a premier attraction among yacht owners.

“There is no reason why Fiji should not substantially increase its annual number of visiting foreign yachts from the 500,” Mr Seymour said at Musket Cove Resort.

“An immediate target of 1000 would be realistic,” he said. Mr Seymour is based in the United Kingdom.

He was at Musket Cove to assist participants in his company’s round-the-world cruising rally. Thirty rally yachts spent 10 days at Savusavu and sailed to Musket Cove for a stay of nearly two weeks.

Mr Seymour said Fiji was a popular calling point for Blue Water Rallies.

“It is very important to the success of our rallies. It is ideally positioned geographically. People leave here with an extremely good feeling. It is very friendly and the facilities, in general, are good. The participants want to see the country and experience its culture and environment and the tourism industry provides support for that.”

Mr Seymour said Savusavu provided a blend of Fijian hospitality and quite sophisticated facilities at the Copra Shed complex with excellent support from the Savusavu Yacht Club.

“Musket Cove has outstanding amenities. It is yacht-friendly with a resort environment.”

However, he said, for Fiji to meet its full potential as a cruise yacht destination, there must be additional mooring and berthing infrastructure. “Supportive government policies are vital.

“In Thailand, tax and restrictive measures led to a decline in visiting yachts but when a new and liberal approach was adopted which included reducing or removing tax and allowing duty free entry of yacht components, there was a huge revival of the cruise yacht industry.”