Photo by Andy Brack

The recreational boating industry is currently thriving, according to the South Carolina Boating & Fishing Alliance (SCBFA), despite uncertain economic conditions and a recent pandemic.

So far this year, the industry has had a $6.5 billion economic impact in the state, said the nonprofit, which represents the state’s boat and fishing tackle manufacturers, citing a study from the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

This figure is a record high and represents a 67% increase over the industry’s $3.9 billion impact in 2018. 

The study discovered that yearly sales of new boats, engines, trailers and accessories have jumped from $661 million in 2018 to $895 million this year — a 35.5% increase. These numbers do not include the state’s fishing industry which includes the three largest fishing tackle manufacturers in the world, SCBFA said.

The recreational boating industry has also contributed to job creation throughout the state. South Carolina’s boating sector currently supports 27,100 jobs, an increase of 80% from 2018, which was the largest surge out of any U.S. state residing in the South, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“These remarkable economic impact numbers underscore the critical role of recreational boating in fueling South Carolina’s economy,” said Gettys Brannon, president and CEO of the South Carolina Boating & Fishing Alliance. 

“As we witness the industry’s substantial growth, we are reminded of the countless opportunities it presents for job creation, business expansion and community development.”

South Carolina’s recreational boating boom is reflective of how the industry has been trending nationwide. This year alone, recreational boating in the U.S. has contributed over $230 billion to the country’s economy, supporting more than 36,000 businesses in the process.

In light of the positive economic results, SCBFA says it will continue to “cultivate and ensure the long-term vitality of recreational boating and fishing in South Carolina,” including plans to host its third annual Boat, Fish, Football Expo on Sept. 23 in Columbia at Gamecock Village outside Williams-Brice Stadium.The event will showcase several locally made boats courtesy of South Carolina’s largest boat manufacturers.

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