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Australia—the boating nation—prepares to enjoy a restriction-free summer on the water

August 1, 2022
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin exporters of recreational and safety marine equipment and accessories could find opportunities in this market.

With summer around the corner in Australia, sales of boats and other recreational marine products are expected to grow, and that could offer opportunities for Wisconsin exporters in the marine industry.

More than 85% of Australia’s population lives within about 30 miles of one of the island nation’s coasts, so boating of all types is a leading recreational activity—and that trend has grown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Boating is a great escape, and over the past two years, demand for all things boating accelerated with boating licenses and registrations up across the nation,” said Adam Smith, vice president of the Boating Industry Association, at the Sydney International Boat Show in July. “People of any age, gender and ability can participate in boating across paddle, sail and power for leisure and sport.”

Boating industry revenue grew 8% over the past year, to $9.6 billion AUD ($6.4 billion USD), an association report says.

More than 2 million Australians have a boating license, and nearly one of every five households has its own boat or watercraft. There are more than 925,000 boats registered in Australia. The recreational boating industry employs 26,000 people and counts more than 2,000 businesses. About three-fourths of those businesses are small, family operations supporting local communities, Smith said.

Based on the report’s findings, Wisconsin exporters may find the best opportunities in these areas:

  • Recreational crafts under 6 feet: 85% of the registered boats in Australia are in this category
  • Personal watercraft: The fastest-growing powered watercraft, with an increase of 29% over the last five years
  • Non-powered watercraft: Everything from kayaks to stand-up paddleboards has seen strong growth

Sales of marine safety products, such as lifesaving and rescue equipment, also are expected to increase as more novice boaters take to the sea and will need to meet local safety requirements.

Now that Australia has lifted restrictions on travel and activities, the boating industry expects to continue to grow. Exporters should ensure that products will meet local boat building standards and recreational boating rules, and they can review the Boating Industry Association website for additional industry insights. Contact WEDC to discuss how the international trade team can assist.



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