Gas Prices Won’t Keep Boaters out of Water This Season

Rising gasoline prices won’t keep boaters out of the water this summer, predicts Thom Dammrich, president of the recreational boating industry group, National Marine Manufacturers Association.

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“For most boaters, good weather and favorable boating conditions typically overshadow fuel prices when it comes to determining whether to get out on the water,” said Dammrich, adding that boaters would adjust to fuel price hikes by operating their boats at lower speeds and reducing cruising distances.

His comments came as the NMMAreported this week that the rate of decline for new boat sales has been easing and boaters hit the water in record numbers last year.

The industry shipped 188,230 new power and sailboat units in 2010, 10 percent less than the year before, but nonetheless an improvement from the 35 percent decline the industry suffered in 2009.

Seventy-five million people, or 32.4 percent of adults living in the U.S., went boating last year, which was the highest participation rate since 1999.

Despite signs that the recreational boating industry is rebounding from the recession, recovery has been spotty and pent-up demand has yet to translate to a growth in boat sales.

Even as most of NMMA’s recently concluded winter boat shows saw an uptick in attendance, exhibitors’ performance were a mixed bag.

Overall, the industry sold 1,118,130 powerboats and sailboats in 2010, 4 percent less than the year before. Sales of pre-owned boats also dropped 2.4 percent in 2010 from the previous year.

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