BM: In­dus­try buoy­ant, but con­cerns for fu­ture

Canal Boat - - News -

NA­TIONAL boat­ing in­dus­try body Bri­tish Marine has re­ported the sixth suc­ces­sive year of growth for the sec­tor, but still has con­cerns about en­sur­ing that boat­ing busi­ness con­tin­ues to meet the needs of cur­rent and fu­ture cus­tomers.

The first of two new re­ports, com­piled from a sur­vey of mem­ber com­pa­nies, re­veals that over­all rev­enue grew 3.4 per­cent in 2017, sup­port­ing 33,000 jobs. Hol­i­day hire and other boat­ing tourism showed the big­gest growth with 60 per­cent of op­er­a­tors re­port­ing in­creased busi­ness, which BM be­lieves is a re­sult of the fall in the value of the pound fol­low­ing the EU vote, mak­ing for­eign hol­i­days more ex­pen­sive.

At the same time, those con­tribut­ing to the re­port com­mented on the need to find “a younger de­mo­graphic to canal hol­i­days”, with an an­nual in­crease in hol­i­day­mak­ers’ age which “ob­vi­ously isn’t sus­tain­able”. And this leads on to the sec­ond re­port, which is the first stage in a ‘Fu­tures’ strat­egy.

BM be­lieves long-term par­tic­i­pa­tion in boat­ing is de­clin­ing with fewer younger or new par­tic­i­pants. In par­tic­u­lar, “new gen­er­a­tions don’t want the com­mit­ment of own­ing a boat”; peo­ple are “too busy” for out­door ac­tiv­i­ties; “pay-as-you-go, easy book­ing and buy­ing” are what peo­ple want – and BM aims to ad­dress these in a strat­egy to re­verse the trend. How­ever while tra­di­tional mo­tor and sail boat­ing are in de­cline, the re­port says that canal boat­ing is one area that’s still on the up.

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