Dr Alison Vassallo is a Partner at Fenech & Fenech Advocates, where she heads the Yachting Department. Her extensive experience in the sector, including contributions to policymaking, also saw her co-organise the first Superyacht Symposium in 2022. She also chairs the Yachting Services Business Section within The Malta Chamber.

What is Malta’s value proposition in the world of superyachts?

 Over the past years, Malta has made steady inroads in the superyacht sector, attracting some of the world’s most beautiful yachts and influential yacht owners. Today Malta is an undisputed world leader in the registration of superyachts and the largest European flag. This success is underpinned by the legal protections afforded to financiers, effective tax structuring options, a solid legal system, and streamlined importation procedures. These are complemented by the excellent marina, refit, chandlery, and agency services offered to yachts physically calling at our shores.

How has the regulatory and policy framework for the superyacht sector developed over the last years, and how does Malta differ from other jurisdictions popular with superyachts?

One of the key strengths of our jurisdiction is that, contrary to some of our European neighbours, who at times have taken the approach of penalising yacht owners, Malta has over the years recognised the value that this industry brings and has taken tangible steps to support it. Furthermore, the private sector and the authorities have consistently worked hand-in-hand to service this niche sector, with our small size undoubtedly rendering individual relations easier to develop and manage.

There is consistent consensus between the various players that with competition in this sector being rife on an international level, it is important to build on the heritage, reputation and success Malta has enjoyed for centuries as a shipping jurisdiction by developing tailor-made, professionally delivered solutions. At a time when the industry at large is experiencing historic growth, efforts to strengthen legislative and practical frameworks to effectively service the industry and lay the groundwork for further growth, as is happening with the development of a first national superyacht policy, could not be more timely.

How does the Yachting Services Business Section within The Malta Chamber contribute to the development of the sector?

The mission of the Yachting Services Business Section has always been that of supporting Government with in-depth technical, practical and legal knowledge of the industry. I hold the strong view that the industry depends on the public sector and vice-versa: the service we offer clients we bring to our shores can only excel in this highly competitive sector with the support of the various Government departments.

What advice would you offer superyacht owners considering registration in Malta, to ensure their Maltese experience is as smooth as possible?

While yacht purchases are often driven by passion, one solid piece of advice is that it is crucial for potential or existing owners to research and seek proper advice as early on as possible in their journey. This ultimately serves clients to obtain information on all their available options, to plan in good time, and to ensure that the process remains as smooth and pleasant as possible.

It also makes a significant difference when owners, especially first-time owners, are guided by reputable advisors with a proven track record of experience and high levels of professionalism. It is crucial for advice to be sought from industry players who have a thorough understanding of how the industry and the processes and legalities which are at times very specific to it work. This can save costly mistakes that are not always easily remedied down the line.

This feature was first carried in the Malta Invest 2024 edition. Malta Invest is the first-ever comprehensive international investment guide focusing on Malta as a destination. It is produced by Content House Group.

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Fenech & Fenech Advocates


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