The number of yachts in China will increase to about 100,000 in 2020 from about 3,000 last year, with the value of China's yacht business estimated to be 50 billion yuan ($8.16 billion) by then, the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association said in its annual report, which was released in May.
The government's support for marine tourism is also a positive signal for the industry, association secretary-general Zheng Weihang told ChinaDaily USA.
Improvement in the infrastructure for yachts, such as marinas, was urged in an outline for the tourism and leisure industry released by the State Council in February, Zheng said.
Also, China's fast-growing economy is giving more people the ability to buy pleasure boats, which explains a surge in interest in boating and boat ownership in recent years. In addition, yacht builders are finding ways to make the boats easier to operate, industry insiders said.
"I think that in the near future, boating will become a new lifestyle for mainland residents, who prefer self-driving, just like it happened in Hong Kong," said Lars Petersen, general manager of Jebsen Marine, the sole dealer of Italian yacht brand Riva and the United Kingdom's Fairline.
He told the publication that China's yacht industry is now in its first phase, but will soon move to the second stage in terms of different usage of the boats.
In the second stage, customers will increasingly change their use of boats from business purposes to entertainment activities, which will add to the demand for smaller yachts to enlarge the clients' portfolios, Petersen said.
The industry's trade group echoed Petersen's words.
"Due to the growing number of wealthy people and an upgrade in consumption levels, the demand for small and medium-sized yachts will explode," the association said in its report. "The market size of the private yacht market will be about 35 billion yuan by 2020."
The increase in sales of private yachts is also an indication of the country's improved luxury-consumption patterns.