There appears to be an increasing number of people swapping hotels for boating holidays due to Covid and climate concerns.
With international flights shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic, many families opted to stay put last summer – and some have ventured into the realm of boating holidays for the first time.
According to Leslie Robinson, chief executive of British Marines, which hosts the annual Southampton International Boat Show, the marina has a waiting list for the first time in five years and demand for the boats – both new and second hand – is currently “really, really strong”.
The leisure maritime industry, like most, has been hit hard by Covid, but a boom in boating interest and what Ms Robinson calls the “UK migration effect” has helped heal.
“Like every other industry, the leisure marine industry was hit in March 2020 when we all went into lockdown,” she said Granthshala.
“Obviously Brexit has had an impact on other industries – some of the new documents people have to fill out, for example, are a relief if you want to buy a new boat in Europe at the moment that you don’t have VAT. The second lot will not have to be paid out but will disappear and may have an effect.
“But really, I think the biggest impact at the moment is usually the outcome of Covid; The things we’re seeing on the supply chain, on labour, the lack of lorry drivers means it’s difficult to get components of the supply chain and COVID is happening in other countries from where we supply.
“So we were badly hit but what we have seen in the summer of last year and this year is consumer demand.
“Late last year it was a way to get out there safely and again this year with the impact of being in the UK and the impact of that has really helped our industry recover to some extent.”
Ms Robinson, who received an OBE at the Queen’s Birthday Honors for her services in the leisure maritime sector, said holiday boat hire companies have seen an increase in bookings not only this summer, but also for next year.
“To give you an example, we have a member who is a canal boat operator in the Midlands, has 15 marinas and a large rental fleet business, and like many others they are currently fully booked after half term. and much later in the season than usual,” she said.
“I just had a quick word and asked how it looked for next year and, where they would normally be compared to pre-pandemic, their bookings for 2022 are three times higher and it has been postponed from this year. No, this is a genuine new booking.”
ABC Leisure Group, which provides narrowband boats for hire from 15 Inland Marines in England, Scotland and Wales, said its earnings were up 26 percent compared to 2019.
The Canal River Trust said its figures covering this August showed lock usage had increased by 10 percent compared to last year and also surpassed the previous two pre-pandemic years, nearly as much in 2018. A third was used.
While Drifters Waterway Holiday, which is made up of nine hire boat companies including ABC and Black Prince, said all of its operators experienced a record year, despite losing the first six weeks of the season, including Easter.
The company said most of its operators’ boats, which represent more than half of the canal boat hire market, were fully booked throughout the summer, with September and 2022 also looking busy.
Ms Robinson believes the trend may be here to stay as more people discover the mental health benefits of getting out on the water, such as reduced anxiety, and that it is “friendly to the whole environment.”
“People are slowing down,” she said, and exploring the “great” beach the UK has to offer.
While boating has traditionally been a popular pastime in the UK, British Marine Boss says the industry is seeing a slightly younger demographic and more families joining.
She also hopes to serve as a role model and encourage more women to join the industry to help improve the gender balance, which she says is “gradually changing but is not where it should be”.
British Marine – the trade association for the UK’s leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry – is currently hosting its annual Southampton International Boat Show, which aims to make the water accessible to all, whether by yacht, kayak or paddleboard be by
The event, which was canceled last year due to the pandemic, is being held until Sunday and gives visitors a chance to try boating and many different forms of water sports.
Organizers are currently in their third year of a five-year pledge to make the show more sustainable, with exhibitors ditching all single-use plastic bottles and using only compostable cups and plates, while people Water points have been placed around the site for To refill the reusable flask.
In 2019, the incident led to the removal of 7.5 tons of waste from landfills due to these actions – a goal British Marines hope to defeat this year.
The Southampton International Boat Show runs from 10-19 September. For more information and tickets visit: www.southamptonboatshow.com
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /