The superyacht industry is almost 200 years old. Revered for its technology, high-quality design and luxury, the industry has continued to be a pioneer for innovative development. Consequently, superyachts are highly sought after, some costing almost 250 million Euros.
Italy is popularly known as a destination for its pristine coast, marine tourism, superb cuisine and rich culture. In recent years, Italy has established itself as a place for nautical tourism, thanks to its position in the Mediterranean Sea, pleasant climate, beautiful landscapes, and other side attractions.
The positive effect of the superyacht industry on the global economy and more specifically, Italy, cannot be downplayed. In 2006, according to theTourism Satellite Accounting of WTTC, the Italian travel and tourism industry jobs was responsible for 4.9% of total employment in the country by providing over 1,115,000 jobs. What’s more, 40% of the superyachts manufactured around the world are produced in Italy, most of which in the city of Viareggio.
Viareggio is a city with an artistic flair and has been described by its mayor, Giorgio del Ghingaro, as the “cradle of shipbuilding”. This is reflected in the giant superyachts and exclusive vessels it constructs; the smallest of them stretching about 24 meters which is the length of an average swimming pool.
It is considered home to many of the world’s renowned yacht builders and superyacht shipyards, including Sanlorenzo, Benetti, and Perini Navi. The city’s contribution to the industry can be traced back to 1819 when the first dock was built. Its focus then was mainly to build large and strong wooden ships to assist in transporting the marble in the region’s famous quarries. Today, Viareggio has evolved from making wooden boats to superyachts.
Viareggio has successfully carved a niche for itself in the shipbuilding industry, having been well equipped to deal with every whim and caprice of the superyacht industry. When compared with similar industries such as luxury cars or private aircraft, a superyacht’s construction is more complex. From suiting the client’s taste to innovative design, the construction is a long and detailed process requiring expertise and finesse. What’s more, each owner has a particular design in mind and this requires the involvement of the most experienced designers and architects. Consequently, the superyacht industry provides a source of employment for many professionals in a variety of fields.
Once a superyacht is complete and ready to sail, Viareggio is considered an ideal location to begin. The annual yachting event, known as ‘the Versilia Rendez-Vous’ takes place in May and is the perfect opportunity to showcase newly built superyachts. As Perini Navi succinctly puts it, “The event is a celebration of the yachting world as a whole, it represents the teamwork between shipbuilders and local companies”.
The event also serves as a tourist attraction. The 2019 edition was witnessed by over 20,000 visitors from different countries, all excited to explore the newest designs from the local shipyards and suppliers.
In exploring the nature of the superyachts and the wealth of employment opportunities it provides, it’s clear Viareggio has been effectively supported by the industry. Considered a hub for superyachts, this Italian town has an exciting future ahead.