Boat industry statistics 2024

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vessels of different sizes in a dock

Whether you’re taking these vessels out to a local lake or the distant sea, boats offer a way for families and others to relax on the open water, engage in fishing and watersports, and access a vast space unreachable by other modes of transportation.

Recreational boats come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from small inflatables and wooden sailboats, to massive yachts. These aquatic vessels can require major investment, costing anywhere from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Additionally, in many states, taking a boat out on the water may require a safety certification.

Key insights

In 2022, there were nearly 12 million recreational vessels registered in the U.S.

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A majority of registered boats, about 55%, were motorboats between 16 feet and 26 feet long, also known as Class I vessels.

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There were 636 fatalities involving recreational boating in 2022, a decline of 3.3% from 2021.

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Florida had more registered recreational vessels than any other state in 2022, at more than 1 million.

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The market size of the global boating industry in 2023 was an estimated $35 billion.

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Boat industry statistics

Millions of Americans register recreational vessels each year, from small man-powered watercrafts to bigger motorboats that support the multibillion-dollar boating industry.

While the recreational boating market is driven largely by motorized Class I vessels, which are between 16 feet and 26 feet long, the global boating market also includes significantly larger vessels used for commerce and military purposes.

In the U.S., boats are most common in highly populated coastal communities, including California along the Pacific Ocean, Florida on the Atlantic Ocean and among states surrounding the Great Lakes.

Boating industry market size

In 2023, the global boating market was valued at an estimated $35 billion in 2023 — it is expected to grow to more than $49 billion by 2030.

Worldwide, the boating industry is shaped by global trade and commercial activity. Broader economic conditions, such as interest rates and consumer confidence, can positively or negatively affect the performance of this sector’s market.

How many boats are registered in the U.S.?

There were 11.77 million boats registered in the U.S. in 2022, a 1.6% decline from 2021, when there were 11.96 million recreational vessels registered nationally.

The number of registered vessels has declined from peaks recorded in the mid-2000s, with the U.S. seeing a record-high 12.94 million recreational vessels registered in 2005.

Among the nearly 12 million boats registered in 2022, a majority of about 6.48 million were motorized boats 16 feet to 26 feet long. Fewer than 8% were not mechanically propelled, including rowboats, sailboats and paddle boats. The difference is affected in part by varying registration requirements across states, with some not requiring registration of nonmotorized vessels.

Boating fatalities

The U.S. Coast Guard recorded 636 recreational boating deaths in 2022, a slight decline from 658 in 2021. That number equated to a rate of 5.4 fatalities per every 100,000 recreational vessels.

Between 2003 and 2022, the fatality rate for recreational boating has remained between 4.7 per 100,000 vessels and 6.5 per 100,000 vessels — with the peak recorded in 2020.

In 2022, these deaths primarily stemmed from improper operation of the vessel, with top contributors of alcohol use, operator inexperience, and inattention.

Boating by state

Florida was home to more than 1 million recreational boat registrations in 2022, accounting that year for 8.5% of all registered vessels in the U.S.

With more vessels than any other state in 2022, Florida experienced the most recreational boating fatalities in the nation. However, the Sunshine State’s fatality rate at 6.6 was not significantly higher than the nation’s, at 5.4 fatalities per 100,000 vessels.

In 2022, the states with the next-greatest numbers of registered vessels were three bordering the Great Lakes: Minnesota (822,450), Michigan (809,750) and Ohio (652,808). California rounded out the top five with 626,642 registrations.

Boating industry by region

The global boating industry is dominated by the North American market. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 85 million Americans annually go boating.

Boating is also a popular pastime in Canada, where an average of 12 million people take the water each year the industry contributes $5.6 billion to the GDP annually.

Outside of North America, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to see significant growth in its boating industry due, in part, to water recreation increasing in popularity and countries investing more in water infrastructure and the preservation of bodies of water.

Globally, the boating market is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1% between 2024 and 2030.

What are the biggest boating companies?

Top recreational boat companies include Brunswick Corporation, an Illinois-based company with a wide range of subsidiaries and boat offerings from pontoons to offshore fishing boats, and Groupe Beneteau, a French company that sells various styles of yachts and powerboats.

Other major players include yacht-maker Azimut Benetti Group (Italy), as well as Tennessee-based Malibu Boats and Marine Products Corporation in Georgia, which manufactures boats in the U.S. for recreational sports.

FAQ

How many boats are in the U.S.?

There were 11.77 million boats registered in the U.S. in 2022. Since the early 2000s, the number of vessels has averaged about 12.33 million annually, peaking in 2005 at nearly 13 million.

What boats are most common?

While many states do not require registration for nonmotorized vessels, the vast majority of registered boats are powerboats, with motorized vessels 16 feet to 26 feet in length accounting for 55% of all registrations in 2022.

What state has the most boats?

There were more than 1 million recreational vessels registered in Florida in 2022, nearly 200,000 more than second-place Minnesota.

What is the size of the boating industry?

In 2023, the market size of the global boating industry was an estimated $35 billion.


References

  1. “2022 Recreational Boating Statistics.” U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety. Evaluated May 15, 2024.Link Here
  2. “Global Boat Market Size By Propulsion System, By Material, By End-User, By Geographic Scope And Forecast.” Verified Market Research. Evaluated May 15, 2024.Link Here
  3. “Recreational Boating Industry Size & Share Analysis - Growth Trends & Forecasts (2024 - 2029).” Mordor Intelligence. Evaluated May 15, 2024.Link Here
  4. “Innovation Takes Center Stage as U.S. Boat Sales Cool Following COVID-Era Demand Surge.” National Marine Manufacturers Association. Evaluated May 15, 2024.Link Here
  5. ”Recreational Boat Market Share, Size, Trends, Industry Analysis Report, By Type (Yachts, Sailboats, Personal Watercrafts, Inflatables, Others), By Size (<30 Feet, 30-50 Feet, >50 Feet), By Engine type (ICE, Electric), By Power Source (Engine Powered, Sail Powered, Human Powered), By Region; Segment Forecast, 2022 - 2030.” Polaris Market Research. Evaluated May 20, 2024.Link Here

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