Report sees future dip in Florida boating demand

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A four-year study of Florida's marine facilities and its economics shows the state's boaters spent $3.38 billion on boating trips in 2007 and $5.15 billion for repairs, marina expenses and other costs not associated with specific boat trips.

The 572-page report, titled "Florida Boating Access Facilities Inventory and Economic Study, including a Pilot Study for Lee County," notes that boating trips and other spending related to vessels support 97,000 jobs in Florida. Boaters took 21.7 million trips in 2007.

The report predicts a 1.8 percent decline statewide in boating demand in the next 16 years in Florida. About half the 63 counties in the study will see a decrease in boating by 2025 because of changes in demographics of the state's population.

"The results of the study show the importance of launch lanes, parking lots and their overall condition, as well as the area's level of development - the number of developed facilities, such as restrooms, at the ramp," Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission economist David Harding said in a statement. "Artificial reefs, sea grass and management zoning are some of the important characteristics in site selection for boaters using marine access ramps."

The study projects a price tag of $68 million to $111 million to maintain boaters' access to water at the 2006 level.

Click here to see the report.

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