MIAMI — NMMA president Thom Dammrich made his final keynote address at the Miami International Boat Show’s Innovation Breakfast this morning, speaking about the state of the industry and outlining strategic objectives for the association. “People ask me if this my last Miami show, and I answer, ‘I certainly hope not,’ ” Dammrich said. “It’s just the last one I have to worry about.”
Dammrich said that this year’s show, when combined with the Miami Yacht Show, puts a combined 1,900 boats on display in Miami. “This is the largest display of recreational boats in the world,” he said, noting that the show will attract about 100,000 people from 35 countries. “It has an economic impact of $854 million for the region, which is double the impact of the Super Bowl.”
Last year was the eighth consecutive year of growth for the U.S. boating industry. “In 2018, Americans spent $41 billion on boating,” Dammrich said. “New powerboat sales were up 4 percent last year, and we expect that number to be 3 percent this year. But we are seeing a few cracks in the armor.”
Noting that leading economic indicators such as consumer confidence, GDP growth and unemployment rates are trending in the correct direction, Dammrich said there is “lots of opportunity ahead” for the industry. “We expect to see continued growth this year and possibly until the end of 2021,” he said. “During that slowing period, the low point of that slowing will be where we were last summer. Remember, once the economy is growing, it’s not in recession.”
A recent economic impact study found that boating contributes $170.3 billion a year to the U.S. economy, supports 35,000 marine businesses and employs 511,000 people. “We are a significant part of the outdoor recreation industry, which accounts for 2 percent of GDP each year,” Dammrich said. “By contrast, agriculture or mining account for 1 percent of GDP.”
Dammrich then outlined NMMA’s strategic objectives going forward, including increasing local and federal lobbying efforts, more research into issues impacting boating and engaging the industry to become more involved in advocacy.
“We plan to go on an advocacy offensive,” Dammrich said. “Our board has allocated significant additional dollars to our advocacy and communications around advocacy. We plan to go on the offensive on your behalf. Remember, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
The NMMA will also be adding $1 million in additional funds to Discover Boating. The association has also created a budget to do more research on how the industry can attract a more competent workforce. It has also raised its PAC target to $500,000 per year from last year’s $250,000 budget.
Dammrich quoted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who once said: “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”
“We’ll always be facing challenges,” Dammrich said. “But if we work together and support each other on this broad range of issues, I believe it will make the industry healthier in the next decade, with a sustainable profit that every business wants. We need to speak as one voice. We are strongest when we have a united industry voice.”
Dammrich then received a standing ovation.