How is the Italian boating industry doing? In excellent health according to the research “The Boating Industry in Figures,” presented by Ucina (National Union of Boatyards and Nautical and Allied Industries). But all that glitters is not gold. A few fever lines still have it. The overall health is measured by the economic growth compared to the previous year, the overall figure is a plus 10.3 percent over the previous year, which brought the total turnover of the marine industry up to 4.2 billion in 2018. It is certainly not the 6.2 billion euros of the pre-global crisis era, (2008) but it is also not the dramatic low point of 2013, when turnover plummeted to 2.4 billion.
The domestic market is also growing at about the same rate, 10.7 percent more than 2017, with value of 1.48 billion however only 0.88 billion domestic product.
But if one looks deeper into the figures released during the conference at the Genoa Boat Show on the health of the Italian boating industry, one realizes that the growth of the boating sector is largely thanks to exports and superyachts (turnover doubled in a few years) in which Italy is a world leader. Just to be clear, a superyacht sold for 10 million euros is equivalent to a hundred hundred thousand euro boats.
Export, here Italy is going strong, the turnover of the tricolor nautical industry to foreign countries has quadrupled in the last two decades. We are, in 2018, ranked second in the world as economic export volumes after the Netherlands, with more than two billion dollars worth of products exported and first absorption market the United States. Again, the credit here is mostly due to superyachts.
But there are warning signs in this research, boat owners i.e., boat buyers are getting older. Research on the German market reports that the average age of shipowners is a whopping 60 years. Nor are the number of new licenses in Italy growing; in fact, year on year, they are decreasing. As if young people care less about going to sea by boat. And not only for economic reasons.
And how is domestic demand doing? Nautical leasing, one of the main indicators for understanding how boat sales are going in Italy, is stable in terms of volume in 2018 compared to the previous year, with average value growing to over €1 million per contract. And it tends, year after year, to grow. As in: with leasing, fewer boats are bought, but of a higher and higher value. Translated: buying larger and larger leasing boats, especially in northern Italy.
And if we talk about registrations, in 2018 the number is negative: more boats are being decommissioned (deleted from the Italian registry or changing flags) than new ones.