• The propensity for consumers to return to boating after the Covid-19 pandemic is high. Downturns in the boating business over the past 50 years have shown that customers eventually come back, often with pent up demand.

• The trend to do things online with virtual replicas cannot replace the experience of boating. Humans are intrinsically social creatures and like to experience things first-hand with friends and colleagues; we need to meet people, celebrate and have fun – these can only happen in the company of others in the natural environment.

• Asia, with its robust post-SARS 2002-04 epidemic health systems, may recover their economies first. However, the Asia boating market is a relatively small part of the global industry.

• Global banks have much stronger balance sheets than ahead of the 2008-09 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and should be able to support the economic recovery.

• Builders of superyachts over 30m who are constructing client orders are generally in a secure position as clients are unlikely to cancel. Builders with speculative projects without a customer – some 40 per cent of current builds – will be less secure.

• The price of fuel for boat owners should reduce considerably.

• Material costs for resins and oil-based products for boat manufacture should reduce.


• The world is going through a period of economic downturn and lack of confidence without recent parallel. With boating markets strongly linked to economic confidence levels, the industry is in uncharted territory.

• Series production builders of boats up to 24m will be severely affected, with unit volumes reducing to 20-30 per cent of pre-crisis levels; this is based on the experience of the GFC where levels fell to 30 per cent. Some companies will fail and be forced into bankruptcy or distress sale.

• Supply chain disruption for manufacturers due to just-in-time delivery delays, especially from distant countries, will continue to impact production plans.

• Marine equipment manufacturers’ orders will be severely affected in line with the reduction of production boat volumes.

• Fall in value of inventory will impact finance houses who may have to foreclose on dealers and end users. Some effects on the ‘grey’ market, with sales by-passing the manufacturers dealers at distress prices.

• Loss of skilled work force.

• The marina industry will suffer from lower demand.

• Without a cure for Covid-19, social distancing will likely prevail into 2021. This will affect the use of boats and disrupt promotional events and boat shows.

• The opportunity cost of funds for business-minded prospective boat buyers will be high as they wait for the economy to bottom out.


• The existing trend of purchasing experiences rather than assets will strengthen as more buyers seek to rebuild their savings. Boat charter and hire companies will benefit from this, especially those with some adventure content.

• For investors who are able to take a long view, there will be some good opportunities.

• Opportunities in on-shoring as manufacturers seek to reduce supply-chain risk.

• Customers have become more aware of the environment, having experienced a drop in pollution levels. Consciousness will increase post-pandemic, leading to increased interest in cleaner propulsion systems such as electric and sail, together with more efficient boats such as catamarans and foiling.

• Once restrictions are lifted, there may be an increased interest in boating to achieve more freedom. Boating is an activity that engages all the senses and connects people to nature, and is the antithesis to existence in a virtual and online world. The need to escape from enforced isolation will drive the return to boating.


• The virus remains active for more than one year, resulting in long-term decline for the boating industry.

• Exit from lockdowns will be incremental, leading to slow recovery.

• Social unrest and crime grows if a long-term economic depression ensues.

• Perception of boating as being elitist or exclusive in a period of economic depression make it an easy target for politicians pandering to the popular vote, and may result in boat taxation.

• Ongoing US/China trade war spills over into more protectionism, as countries set up trade barriers affecting the boating industry

To contact the authors, email:

[email protected]

[email protected]

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of or Yacht Style.

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