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2020 November December Marina World

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The magazine from the marina industry


INDUSTRY NETWORKING Positive signs of a boating renaissance To bridge the gap between the biennial ICOMIA World Marinas Conference, as the 2020 event was postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ICOMIA Marinas Group hosted the Virtual World Marinas Conference in October. Four webinars each attracted over 250 participants. Charlotte Niemiec summarises some of the discussions The global impact of the coronavirus pandemic this year has seen businesses fail, industries slow and tourism fall to levels not seen for 20 years. But the picture is significantly brighter for the marina industry, where most regions have reported a substantial increase in boat sales as interest in the activity climbed to an all-time high. In the US, said Westrec Marinas vice president Gary Groenewold, the industry acted quickly to ensure the government designated marinas as ‘essential, critical infrastructure’, which allowed individual states to determine their own restrictions. But “this led to a set of disparate rules,” he said, with Florida imposing tough restrictions while neighbouring Georgia had virtually none, with all marinas up and running at full capacity throughout the season. The states with the largest boat ownership – Florida, California and Texas – were sadly also the hardest hit by COVID-19. The global impact of the coronavirus pandemic has had a mixed effect on the marina industry but boat sales reached an all-time high this year. Marinas based on the east and west coasts were, in general, minimally affected because customers tended to stay in their berths. In the south, the closure of international borders meant larger yachts remained in port, providing a much needed boost to marinas that would usually have seen them leave for the summer season. Overall, occupancy is up across the 11,000 marinas in the USA, which is now expecting record revenue for the year. Sara Anghel, NMMA Canada president and ICOMIA president, reported a mixed picture for Canada. Marinas with a strong domestic client base did “extremely well,” with boat sales increasing significantly in June, July and August. But those that relied on US boaters crossing the border into Canada suffered significantly, with empty berths and boats remaining in storage, especially on the east and west coasts. “But Canadian disposable income has increased because no one’s travelling,” she said. “We’re down overall 8% in boat sales for 2020 because there was limited action in March, April and May. However, in late May, June and July there’s an increase of 24%. Overall, the year will pan out positively … the uptick in sales in the US and Canada has been phenomenal and marinas have fared quite well, considering.” And, with the exception of Colombia, South America’s marinas managed to escape many of the negative impacts because they rely mostly on domestic boaters, according to Klaus Peters, partner at Inter Marinas. Europe saw a dramatically split response to the pandemic, said Oscar Siches, consultant for design and operation of marina projects. In more “pragmatic” countries, such as Norway, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal, marinas stayed open and navigation was possible. Greece and Croatia were – November/December 2020 19

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