Boating bounces back: British Marine survey reveals extent of post-Covid rebound

A new report into the UK leisure boat industry has revealed the extent of the post-Covid bounce back...

British Marine’s Key Performance Indicators Report for 2021/2022 show that total industry revenue grew by 25% during the year to £4.23 billion, 6.5% above its pre-pandemic level.

Factoring in indirect economic contributions, such as tourism and hospitality, the marine industry is estimated to be worth around £6.8 billion to the UK economy.

UK marine exports also grew rapidly, showing a 13% year-on-year increase to £1.22 billion, thanks largely to soaring sales of British-built boats.

Motorboat sales alone accounted for £574 million of that thanks to the likes of Princess, Sunseeker and Fairline selling more boats overseas, while sailboats and yachts contributed a further £116 million. Domestic demand also helped power growth, with imports of foreign-built craft increasing by 8% in 2021/22.

Once again, sales were largely driven by demand for motorboats, with inboard- and outboard-powered imports up 32% to £109 million, RIBs up 66% to £39 million and outboard engines up 40% to £22 million.

Despite the good news, British Marine cautions against over-optimism, pointing to the cost of living crisis, surging inflation and subsequent drop in consumer confidence.

Its latest sentiment survey, carried out in December 2022, indicates that the share of marine businesses seeing quarterly sales growth dropped from 52% in Q1 2022 to 29% in Q4 2022.

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Despite this, 49% of British Marine members reported that they were still optimistic about their prospects going into 2023, double the number of businesses pessimistic about their future.

“It’s encouraging to see the marine industry made a strong post-pandemic recovery, highlighting the contribution the sector makes to the UK economy,” says Lesley Robinson, British Marine’s CEO. “These results show the industry is in a strong position as we approach more uncertain times.”


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