Siginificant growth predicted, thanks to Covid-19
By Mike Jarrett
With thousands of slips able to accommodate tens of thousands of yachts all year, port authorities and marina operators across the greater Caribbean should be reassured by the latest forecasts for growth in yachting.
Capital investment in the development of marinas and the requisite ancillary facilities should now seem quite secure. Not only did the yachting industry survive two years of an economically crippling Covid-19 pandemic, it also reported significant growth. And, at the start of 2022, even further growth was predicted, at least for another four years.
Research and Markets/ Global Industry Analysts, Inc. published forecasts that the global yacht industry market would experience significant increases by 2026. The publication Yacht Industry – Global Market 20021 projected that the world’s yacht industry market will likely top USD10.8 billion, up from the USD7.4 billion estimated for 2020.
The research documented trends that indicated growth of yachting in developing countries where economic progress had led to increased wealth. And the growing popularity in resident populations for offshore ‘party’ events and excursions which it said had helped to generate growth in the yacht sub-sector.
Increased demand was also observed in the market for yachts with longer range. Hulls capable of breaking through polar ice were also increasingly in demand. New vessel architecture and design styles, for example, open concept interiors, were also catching the interest of an increasingly diversified market. Owners’ demand for new technology and the latest gadgets such as Jetlevs (i.e., personal watercraft; flyboards) and hoverboards was on the increase. State-of-the-art media technology was increasingly an expectation and all this in addition to what was previously considered ‘standard’ equipment, like canoes and jet skis.
According to this (Research and Markets/ Global Industry Analysts) survey, the yacht industry’s global market was expected to realise a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.2% to reach USD10.8 billion by 2026. And, the superyacht sub-sector was likely to see even higher growth of 6.5% CAGR to reach USD3.6B. Meanwhile, Grand View Research projected growth in the global yacht market size of 5.2% CAGR from 2021 to 2028. Regardless of the numbers and variances the story everywhere was the same – high demand and growth.
Giovanna Vitelli, Group Vice President of Azimut/Benetti, producers of branded superyachts for more than 20 years, reported (in an interview with Boat International) that in 2020 and 2021 Azimut “… registered a remarkable increase in demand on all the markets.” Summarising 2021, he said the company was “comforted” by the volume orders now booked. Production lines were already saturated for more than two years, he stated.
Sector publications like Boat International maintained an editorial focus on this phenomenal growth pattern, with headlines such as Superyacht brokerage sales up record-breaking 46% (April 30, 2021); and Global order book: Over 1,000 superyacht projects on order in 2022 (December 13, 2021) reflecting the trend. In the latter story, Raphaël Montigneaux and Nicholas Robinson wrote that, with the 2022 Global Order Book showing a 24% increase of builds and orders (a total of 1,024 projects), “more than 40 kilometres of superyachts will be built, launched and delivered” by 2026. The writers described the high demand driving current growth as a response to the enforced lockdowns and travel restrictions occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic; with buyers seeing superyachts as “… private, Covid-secure floating islands to take refuge on.”
Demand for yachts and particularly superyachts remained strong in all the model categories, with the sub-45m crafts getting much of the attention. And production of yachts in this size range, the bulk of the semi-custom market, had increased by up to 30%.
At the start of 2022, all indicators pointed to a significant increase in the number of yachts that will be seeking safe harbour in marinas across the entire Caribbean region in the next 24 to 48 months. Be forewarned. Be ready. 
1 Yacht Industry – Global Market Trajectory & Analytics, February 2022, Global Industry Analysts, Inc, 507 pages, ID: 2905656