ITALIAN BOATING MARKET TO RETURN TO DOUBLE-DIGIT GROWTH IN 2021
The Italian boating market is expected to make a major recovery this year, according to data in the latest Boating Economic Forecast presented on the opening day of the Genoa International Boat Show (Thursday, 16 September).
The forecast, produced annually by Confindustria Nautica (the Italian Marine Industry Association) in conjunction with the Edison Foundation, forecast growth between 18.8% and 23.8% for 2021 which would take the global turnover value of the industry’s output to between €5.5 and €6 billion compared with €4.66bn in 2020.
The Boating Economic Forecast includes the latest statistics based on surveys up to the end of August 2021. If the data for the fourth quarter of 2021 confirms the upper range of estimates, the Italian nautical industry would return to the maximum level of turnover achieved in the two-year period 2007/08.
The 2020 figure was the first dip in the value of the Italian industry for several years, falling 2.6% from €4.78bn in 2019 due to the Covid pandemic which caused a shutdown of the industry for around two months. However, many new people took to boating since the initial closures and many superyachts have been contracted.
Italy’s top three yacht-builders – the Azimut-Benetti Group, Sanlorenzo and the Ferretti Group – all reported large increases in their order books at press conferences held at the Cannes Yachting Festival last week (see related stories below).
The growth goes far beyond the post-lockdown rebound recorded by the Italian industry. There are a number of factors involved, including a significant rise in shipyard exports which, in the year to June 30, 2021, reached a record peak of €2.8bn; strong order books at Italian superyacht yards which for many operators cover the next three years; and excellent performance from the nautical equipment and marine engines sectors.
In 2020, Italian shipyards saw a 1.36% increase in value for the sector due to the anticipated reopening of industrial activities. In contrast, components (nautical accessories and marine engines) marked an average decline of 8.7% last year, mainly arising from the closure of production activities in the first months of the lockdown, resulting in the interruption of supply chains and connected logistics.
Finally, two very positive indicators in 2020 were highlighted – a 2.4% increase in the number of employees, which exceeded 24,000, and an increase in the contribution to GDP from parts of the nautical industry, growing from 2.22% to 2.37%, which reflects a better performance than the national economy.
In his speech, Carlo Mescieri, president of ASSILEA, the Italian leasing association, illustrated the reduction in leasing of large yachts which, in the January-July 2021 period, totalled 175 new contracts worth €136m – down 57.7% compared to the same period of the previous year – hitting €777,000. It is estimated that the reduction, due to the leasing reform wanted by the EU Commission, will result in a €40m loss in VAT revenue. The current tax system encourages foreign owners to sign nautical leasing contracts in Malta or other European countries, when before they used to opt for Italy.
The presentation of the data was followed by a round table entitled ’Onboard for reopening the borders; What scenarios await the yachting industry and nautical tourism?’ The roundtable was opened by Maurizio Balducci, Confindustria Nautica vice president, and Andrea Benveduti, councillor for Economic Development of the Liguria Region.
Carlo Maria Ferro, president of the ICE agency, remarked how boating is a sector widely suited to exports. “The more we look at these numbers, the more they improve. The strength of boating is the supply chain and the ability to bring the big brands to success throughout the supply chain. In the start-up area we have invited 10 start-ups specialised in sustainable materials and electricity production. Considering these data so extraordinary, I also launch a proposal here: why not offer incentives to exporters by giving them the opportunity to pay less tax?”
Barbara Beltrame Giacomello, vice president of Confindustria Internationalisation, said: “’Made in Italy’ is a central asset for the country. The potential of beautiful and well-made consumer goods is worth €135bn. There is also great potential to be discovered in countries such as China, the Middle East and India where in 2025 we will have many new wealthy people.”
Mauro Alfonso, SIMEST CEO, explained: “The Italian shipbuilding and nautical industry is one of the peaks of ‘Made in Italy’ excellence, but to ensure further development of the sector in the new global scenario it is important that companies of all sizes, above all the many SMEs specialised in small productions of excellence, focus on internationalisation and invest in innovation and sustainability.”
Alessandro Mazzoni, senior broker & business developer at Equinoxe International, illustrated the latest trends in the sales and charter segment for large yachts, with a particular focus on Italy’s potential as an international nautical destination.
Professor Marco Fortis drew the conclusions: “The Italian nautical industry had a trade balance of almost US$3bn, a value that is double that of the Netherlands. We are consolidating over 12 months a figure of exports that is enormous compared to the past and also compared to any other record. It is a magical moment for Italian exports but also for the added value of our manufacturing.
“In the first six months of the year, among the euro countries, Italy is the one with the strongest growth – not only in terms of GDP, where we are more or less on a par with France, but above all in manufacturing, with +11% of growth acquired in the first six months of the year.
“This dynamic we are witnessing is therefore not a rebound dynamic, but the sign of a structural strengthening. This does not only mean that we have become more competitive, but that we also have less debt with foreign countries. We have transformed ourselves from foreign debtors into foreign creditors.”