Ahoy! We are back writing on our blog because we think these thoughts might also be on your mind.
It all started while we were having a virtual meeting discussing our future developments and a question popped up. A question that was actually on everyone’s mind.
What is the impact of this pandemic on the boating season in Europe?
It is not a question of if, because we think this is a sure thing, it is a question of how.
We have discussed in one of our blog articles about recreational boating industry statistics and one of the positive aspects of it was the fact that the charter industry was booming. Actually it was not affected that negatively even by the recession in 2008. This year we think it will be different.
There are over a hundred million people who regularly engage in boating activities in the EU & USA and only approx. thirty five million boats in the American and European waters. This means that most of the people have chartered boats to follow their passion.
The current situation is changing our perspective and how we manage our daily lives. We think people will no longer be willing to travel during this period at all and we think that they will avoid chartering boats. Indeed, everyone will want to have a vacation after the lock down but we think the vacation time this year will be more safety conscious than in other years. People might focus on vacation destinations that are reachable by car, more secluded and with less human contact.
The conclusion we draw is that the charter season in Europe will be most likely compromised. Yes, being on a boat is choosing to be secluded for a certain period of time but one needs to take into account traveling to the respective location, spending time in a busy marina and most importantly spending at least a week in a small environment where you have no guarantee that it was totally disinfected after the departure of the previous tourists.
Apart from that, the most appreciated charter destinations in Europe, such as: Italy, Spain, Croatia or Greece, have different situations when it comes to this pandemic. While Italy and Spain were extremely affected, countries like Greece were, at least until now, lucky. In Greece the authorities are thinking of asking for a health certificate from each tourist but on the other side one does not know if the pandemic situation is not going to change. Especially if there will be foreign inbound traffic. Greece’s economy relies heavily on tourism and they will most likely be pressured to open the gates during the vacation time.
From this perspective, we consider that the charter industry will be quite affected. What can be done is to adapt very quickly and try to offer some piece of mind to their customers. Offer disinfection services on top of the cleaning of their boats and some basic rules in marinas that could keep everyone safe. At least this way they could attract tourists from their region that are willing to travel to their destination
On the other hand, there are many people who own boats and who would really like to use them. In Europe there is a high ownership rate in most of the western countries such as France, Netherlands, Germany and the northern ones.
At least during this crisis or after, they will get the opportunity to spend more time pursuing their hobby. Especially if most of them are working from home, a boat could be a perfect place to spend your time. In the end, this could be seen as the silver lining part of this whole story. One of the biggest issues with owning a boat is not having the time to use it.
If the respective country has not restricted this activity, like in the Netherlands, we think that people will make use of their boats. Either just to relax, go fishing or sailing.
We think they will even do that more than in other years, especially because the relaxation or vacationing options available will be limited. What will change though is the way they will interact with other people. We have written an article on social distancing for boaters and we think that those rules still apply. Boaters will be more conscious of how they interact with others, will spend time with their immediate families instead of having many friends over. They will, in general, be more secluded during their boating time.
This will impact more the infrastructure around boating. Marina’s might be still busy but restaurants and shops around them will definitely be affected.
In conclusion, we think that this is going to be a very interesting year for boating all over the world. Many business activities will be impacted by this situation, some more than others but we still think that people will go out there on the water. We will still see people fishing, sailing boats raising their sails and people enjoying their wine on their boat.
What are your thoughts on this?