As he did at last year’s International Boatbuilders’ Conference and Exhibition (IBEX) Show in Tampa, Fla., National Marine Manufacturers Association President Frank Hugelmeyer addressed the audience at last week’s Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show by saying, “We’re winning, but haven’t won. You can see . . . the steady decline in new-boat sales over the last 40 years. Hubris is not what we need right now.”
Of course, boat sales over the past two pandemic years are at all-time highs, but Hugelmeyer’s remarks set the tone for continued but cautious optimism.
“Despite inflation, gas prices and supply-chain disruptions, consumers are showing a very strong and sustained interest in boating,” he continued. “The key economic indicators for boating remain sound, and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about our industry.”
Hugelmeyer delivered the keynote at the Industry Breakfast at what is now the world’s largest boat show, encompassing recreational boats, yachts, and sailboats. Indeed, this year’s show in Miami and Miami Beach was massive.
“It’s been seven years since the Miami International Boat Show was held in this building, and it’s great to be back,” said Larry W. Berryman Jr., vice president of Miami Boating for Informa Markets, speaking about being back in the renovated Miami Beach Convention Center. “Joining with NMMA in this reimagined building and at our other venues to create the world’s largest boat show is an amazing accomplishment.”
Hugelmeyer said that Discover Boating social media and partnering with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation has helped attract more people to fishing and boating.
“Social media engagement is up 75 percent to 7.5 million, and paid social gained us 20.5 million impressions,” he commented. “We had 6million YouTube views last year, and Instagram traffic was up 22 percent compared with pre-pandemic levels. It’s clear that these are powerful ways to reach new boaters and bring them into the fold.”
Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation president and CEO Dave Chanda said, “The remarkable interest in boating and fishing is immediately apparent when you look at the metrics for our website,” he said of takemefishing.org.“We had more than 55 million visits in the first nine months of last year and3.5 billion impressions.”
“We’ve had great success working with our partners in Congress,” Hugelmeyer said. “Getting the Great American Outdoors Act passed represented a great effort by our advocacy team. We’ve built a strong relationship with the new administration.”
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo appeared at the event by video, commenting on the retaliatory tariffs placed on U.S. boat imports by theEuropean Union. “It was a remarkable effort for us to get the tariffs removed that so severely impacted the U.S. boating industry,” Raimonda said. The tariffs were lifted in January.
NMMA’s partnership on the Discover Boating campaign is a leading effort to bring new boaters into the lifestyle. “We plan on rebranding allNMMA-owned boat shows under Discover Boating by 2023,” he said. “We will continue to refresh the Discover Boating campaign across Web, digital and boat show platforms.”
Scott Berry, director, engineering standards for NMMA, andRollick CEO Bernie Brenner also presented the Marine Industry CustomerSatisfaction Index awards.
The NMMA’s Alan J. Freedman award recognizing individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the marine industry was presented by Syntec Industries president Bill Watters to NorCross Marine Products president Greg Lentine.
“In addition to his relentless pursuit of quality marine innovation and building his company, Greg has been a longstanding advocate for our industry, particularly small businesses, making sure they always have a seat at the table with the big guys,” Watters said.