Wealthy residents of Hong Kong rush to sell or ship their yachts and luxury cars out of Chinese territory as the city braces for increasingly draconian Covid-19 restrictions.

Specialized shipping and brokering firms told the Financial Times that requests and bookings had risen significantly recently as boat and car owners, many of them expats, made plans to flee the city.

Fifty-three cars were shipped from Hong Kong to the UK by just one company last month, with a further 47 booked for the first weeks of March. That was about double the number of cars shipped during the same period last year, according to Jack Charlesworth, director of My Car Import.

“Customer Feedback . † †[showed that]the latest Covid rules [in Hong Kong] are a major factor contributing to the increase in demand,” Charlesworth told the FT.

Kingsley Read, director of ShipMyCar, said his company had also seen a jump in bookings from Hong Kong customers transporting their cars, including a Ferrari and a Rolls-Royce, to the UK.

Yachts moored at the Gold Coast Yacht & Country Club in Hong KongYachts moored at the Gold Coast Yacht & Country Club in Hong Kong © Chan Ho-him/FT

Yacht companies have reported a similar increase in business. “Last year we only saw a few [yachts] leave,” says Charles Massey of Sevenstar Yacht Transport. †[But since mid-February] there have been many more questions about leaving Hong Kong, heading to Phuket, to Singapore, to Europe.”

Sevenstar said it would move at least five yachts out of town in March alone and addressed a handful of other questions. Massey said several superyacht owners were also looking to get their boats out of Hong Kong in the coming months.

Fewer than 10 yachts were shipped out of the city by the company last year, Massey said, adding that shipping a large yacht could cost between $200,000 and $1 million.

“It [is] very difficult for people to live a normal life [in Hong Kong]† People will try to get away,” he said.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents have left or are considering leaving after authorities imposed strict Covid measures, including a no-fly zone from nine countries, the closure of all sports facilities and public beaches, and a ban on multi-household gatherings in homes and even at home. yachts.

The threat of mass testing and forced quarantine at a government facility has given an even greater impetus to leave.

In February, Hong Kong recorded a net loss of 65,295 residents and another 40,920 in mid-March.

According to real estate agents, the price of homes in a neighborhood popular with expats has fallen by about 5 percent in the past month.

On Thursday, the city surpassed 980,000 infections after the fifth Covid-19 wave hit in December. In nearly two years before that, Hong Kong only registered about 12,600 cases.

According to Baggy Sartape, chief executive of Asia Boating Limited, the number of yachts for sale has increased by 20 to 30 percent compared to the same period last year.

Eric Noyel, chief executive of yacht broker Asiamarine, said: “We have more questions from people in Hong Kong [about selling their boats] because they are either leaving Hong Kong or they can’t see when they can use their boats.”

But not all yacht owners leave the city for good. “It looks like we’ll be going to Europe for a few months until things are settled,” said the German owner of a 65-foot boat who has lived in the city for 26 years. “Then we’ll come back.”

Additional reporting by Primrose Riordan in Hong Kong

This post Hong Kong empires race to get their yachts out of the city

was original published at “https://www.ft.com/content/7fce9589-0561-4b74-9d5f-83599a33d9ae”