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The super-rich in the state seem to have added a new item to their wish-list.

Move over private jets and sports cars, the state's well-heeled have set their eyes on luxury pleasure boats ranging from sports cruisers to yachts. High net worth individuals are snapping up sport cruisers and luxury boats with a starting price tag of Rs 50 lakh and running to over Rs 5 crore.

Sport cruisers are entry-level yachts. Many models are fully-furnished and air-conditioned. They can accommodate 6-10 people and have lounge, kitchen, bathrooms and even sleeping areas. Already there are around 15 hi-tech sport cruisers plying in the state's waters. Industry experts say the market is set to double each year.

The state's business elite have made a couple of big-ticket yacht purchases in recent years, including one which was imported from west Asia recently. But it is the sport cruiser segment which is witnessing much of the action mainly because these vessels can easily cruise through the lakes and the backwaters for weekend pleasure trip and long cruises.

With the affluent settling down in waterfront properties, having a pleasure boat idling in front of their mansions is considered as a must-have status symbol.

"The scenic backwaters of Kerala offer a very tempting reason to splurge into water with these dream machines. We have seen strong interest from people in the high income bracket to own a luxury pleasure boat for personal use and family get-togethers. Before the annual sales of luxury pleasure boats were in single digits but last year we sold over 40 pieces including four sports cruisers," said George Pottamkulam, managing partner of Indmerc Marine at Kochi, which sells US-made vessels.

Higher disposable incomes and abundance of backwaters and other water bodies are fuelling the interest for luxury boats and cruisers in the state. The demand is led by NRI's, businessmen and other high net worth individuals who consider owning a boat as prestigious. We are even getting enquiries for larger vessels in price range of Rs 1 crore to Rs 4 crore," said Arun Mookken, partner, Matrix Marine

He said the sector is eagerly awaiting a nod from the Kerala Ports to allow private boats to take out trips to the sea. "The possibility of travelling from Kochi to Kollam in your own boat in the open seas will be a dream come true and will give a big boost to the industry," he said.


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