Partner news

The boating industry in 2019, a review by ICOMIA

Monday, 9 December 2019

Udo Kleinitz, Secretary General of ICOMIA, presented key highlights of the global marine leisure market in 2019 at METSTRADE 2019. Kleinitz dives into the ICOMIA Industry Statistics Book and tells what 2019 was all about. Kleinitz "The mood and atmosphere in the industry is the best in years!"

Valuable activity

"We are thankful for stable consumer confidence, despite ongoing geopolitical uncertainties around the world" says Kleinitz. "Fingers crossed this stays as is, our industry has so many challenges ahead in terms of ageing boaters population, changing consumer behaviour, pressure on more sustainable products, and so on." The boating industry enjoyed another strong year of growth, albeit at a slower pace than in previous years. Industry revenues grew by 3%, with total industry turnover now estimated at almost €110 billion. This direct industry economic output of over €100 billion is generated by 65,000 companies directly engaged in providing services to boaters, from boat and equipment manufacturing, distribution and sales, to services to support new and used retail and aftermarket parts sales and maintenance of craft. These businesses in turn employ more than 600,000 people working directly in the industry, and create a vast supply chain supporting tens of thousands more businesses and providing employment for hundreds of thousands of additional employees.

This economic activity is not only valuable in terms of these businesses’ high productivity, but also their demographics and location. Most of the industry is composed of family businesses and other SMEs that are geographically dispersed. With most businesses located outside of the largest metropolitan areas, this economic activity provides a valuable foundation for rural and coastal economies

Extensive aftermarket

The industry’s core boatbuilding sector supports nearly 6,000 boatbuilders, with 150,000 direct employees constructing 1 million recreational boats annually, generating sales revenue in excess of €15 billion. The trade in leisure boats reaches almost every major developed and developing nation on the globe, with sales of new and used boats totaling almost €30 billion each year. These vessels range dramatically in size, style and functionality: from small, laser sailing dinghies to sleek, ocean-traversing sailing yachts; durable, outboard-powered semi-rigid inflatables to more technologically refined fiberglass and aluminium-hulled sports boats; and stylish, inboard cabin cruisers to multi-million-dollar luxury motor yachts. Trailerable motorboats account for the largest share of boats produced and sold, primarily powered by cheaper and more user-friendly outboard motors. In addition to this vast trade, there are nearly 30 million boats already in ownership, which demand an extensive aftermarket parts sales and service network many times larger than the industry’s manufacturing sector, accounting for 90% of businesses and 75% of employees supported by the industry. Included within this network are 30,000 marinas and shipyards, which provide close to 5 million berths, 1 million open moorings, critical boat and engine maintenance, refit and repair services, and act as vital platforms for promoting participation in boating of all types.


The figures above, while strong, belie a turbulent year for the industry, with international trade disputes engulfing major boating markets in the US, Europe, Canada and emerging markets in China and Latin America, prompting warnings of impending recession. Kleinitz: "We might enter a period of recession, some are cautioning against it – you can talk about something until it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. All what we get from companies so far is that growth has slowed down in 2019."

For now, the industry appears to have taken these threats in its stride, with consumer spending still strong across most markets and the industry’s largest companies enjoying enough flexibility to weather supply chain disruptions by absorbing manufacturing costs, re-routing supply networks and shifting stock between regional markets. Despite these challenges, the industry remains optimistic in 2019, with ICOMIA’s latest Half Year Trends Survey indicating that outlook is positive in over half of the industry’s geographic markets.

Share your stories on leisure marine industry with us

Do you have an innovation, research results or an other interesting topic you would like to share with the leisure marine equipment industry? The METSTRADE website and social media channels are a great platform to showcase your stories! Let us know via metstrade@rai.nl

Are you an METSTRADE exhibitor?

Make sure you add your latest press releases to your Company Profile in the Exhibitor Portal for free exposure.