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Boating Tourism on the Rise, Contributing Over £6 billion to the UK Economy

4th April 2019
The boat tourism sector sector has created close to £6bn in sales from boating-related tourism, a 65% growth since 2013, according to British Marine The boat tourism sector sector has created close to £6bn in sales from boating-related tourism, a 65% growth since 2013, according to British Marine Photo: Broads Authority

New figures out today from British Marine, the leading trade association for the UK leisure marine industry, highlight how the marine sector has created close to £6bn in sales from boating-related tourism expenditure in 2018, a 65% growth since 2013. In 2018, the average boating and watersport tourist spent just over £47 a day for fun out on the water, an increase from £45.70 in 2013. Londoners and those from the South East, South West and the Midlands spent the most on boating-related tourism.

  • Boating related tourism has created 62,200 new jobs in five years.
  • Direct boating tourism adds more to the UK economy than film, agriculture, forestry and fishing industries individually.
  • The sector has created close to £6bn in sales from boating-related tourism, a 65% growth since 2013.

These boating related tourism sales contributed over £6bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy, a 68% growth since 2013. Of the subsectors within boating tourism,hire, charter and training contributed the most GVA (£132 million) to the UK economy. This can be attributed to increased spending on leisure activities as wealth and disposable incomes rose following the UK’s recovery from the financial crisis.

Direct boating tourism contributes more GVA to the UK economy than other sectors individually including the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry, and motion picture and television programme production.

Britain’s boating tourism sector supports 158,000 jobs across UK leisure, marine and tourism businesses and their supply chains. The industry has created 62,000 more jobs since 2013. For every job directly employed in the boating tourism sector, there are an additional 15 jobs supported in the wider economy through the direct and indirect effects of expenditure of boaters and boating tourism businesses. Employment is the highest in the South East, London, South West and West Midlands. Together, these regions account for over half (54%) of direct and indirect jobs in the British marine sector.

Nigel Hamilton, Chair of British Marine Tourism, said: “Boating related tourism is a very diverse segment of the UK tourism market, reflecting a wide range of budgets, types of craft and holiday experiences. This report illustrates the varied and substantial economic contribution to a thriving UK boating tourism sector gives to local communities across Britain demonstrates the great potential for further industry growth.”

Lesley Robinson, CEO at British Marine, added: “The depreciation of the sterling since the Brexit vote has helped this success by promoting domestic and inbound tourism. As the hire, charter and training markets expand, we look forward to seeing even more people getting out onto the water!”

Boating tourism businesses have enjoyed consistent growth since the EU referendum, benefitting from the increased attraction of UK holidays resulting from a weakened pound. Amongst our members, businesses confidence remains positive, with a net rating score of +16%, an improvement of +3% since the referendum. Team

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Coastal & Marine Tourism

According to the National University of Galway (NUIG) research the average expenditure per coastal day trip in 2018 was calculated at €95. The equivalent for coastal overnight trips was €310. The estimated water-based activity expenditure per person per trip across the sample was €56 rising to €73 for the subsample that actually undertake waterbased activities on their coastal visits. The results also indicate that domestic tourists undertake the majority of their marine activities on the West and South coasts of Ireland and that there are notable differences in participation rates across age groupings, social classes and by family makeup.

A domestic tourist is defined in this report as a person who spends at least one night away from home on their trip. Total expenditure by domestic tourists in coastal areas was estimated to be €698 million in 2018, which represents 35% of the total expenditure by domestic tourists (using the broader Fáilte Ireland measure for domestic tourists that includes business trips equating to 10.92 million in total trips and €2,006 million in total revenue).

The marine related activity expenditure, or what might truly be referred to as domestic marine tourism, is estimated to generate revenue of €381 million with €172 million being spent on water-based activities. Marine tourism makes up an estimated 19% of total domestic tourism expenditure.

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