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Study: 142 million Americans went boating last year

An estimated 142 million Americans went boating in 2016 — 36 percent of U.S. households — according to the 2016 Recreational Boating Participation Study, which was released today.

Released by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and Discover Boating, the study showed that of the 142 million, 17 million individuals were first-time participants, and half of these first-time participants were children under age 18.

Of those Americans who went boating in 2016, those who spent the most hours on the water or engaged in fishing and water sports were more likely to consider purchasing a boat.

“The results of the new Recreational Boating Participation Study illustrate the breadth of recreational boating in the United States and the opportunity for our industry to get more Americans on the water and ultimately buying boats — exploring emerging markets such as Hispanics, reaching younger boaters and encouraging those already active in boating to pursue boat ownership,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich in a statement.

“The study makes clear what we all know as boaters — the more time spent on the water, the more likely someone is to become a boat owner,” Dammrich said. “As an industry it is our job to help people spend more time on the water and facilitate the boating and boat-buying process, whether that’s through lobbying for improved access and infrastructure, nurturing active boaters through marketing or providing more accessible ways to try boating through such things as classes or rental opportunities.”

“The insights from this report support a healthy and thriving participation level for boating, which helps fund local conservation programs across the U.S.,” RBFF president and CEO Frank Peterson said. “As we strive to increase participation in both recreational boating and fishing, the report also gives us a deeper look at the connection between the two activities, reinforcing a need for early introduction. This information will help us grow the sport, creating more customers for the industry, more fishing license and boat registration purchases and increased tackle and equipment sales.”

Prepared by QSA Research & Analytics, the study assessed the total number of boaters in the country, including those active during 2016 and those who went boating for the first time in 2016, as well as those who have never gone boating.

The study also profiled active boaters and first-time boaters according to their demographic characteristics and measured the number of household participants who were active boaters and first-time boaters during 2016, their ages and genders.

Other topics featured in the study include boat ownership participation, the amount of time active boaters spent boating during 2016 and the activities they engaged in while boating, including fishing and watersports.

Read more about the study and its key findings here.

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