With traditional summer activities and travel plans mainly on hold, people are seeking safe ways to enjoy the season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. One popular approach is recreational boating.
It’s not just your Instagram feed suggesting that boat trips are all the rage this summer. The data backs it up.
“We’ve seen a huge surge in boat rentals,” Jackie Baumgarten, founder and CEO of peer-to-peer boat rental marketplace Boatsetter told HuffPost. “Without increasing our marketing, Boatsetter recorded our highest ever booking numbers for June. Peer-to-peer rentals were up 74% compared to the same time last year.”
She also noted that Boatsetter listings had increased 40% as people sought to offset the cost of boat ownership during the recession. Meanwhile, demand has spread beyond traditional boating markets like Florida and Southern California to different lakes throughout the U.S., especially up and down the East and West Coasts.
“The number of first-time boat buyers is also on the rise,” said Ellen Bradley, senior vice president, and chief brand officer at Discover Boating. Data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association shows total new boat sales up 19% in May 2020 compared to the same month last year ― the highest they’ve been in a single month since 2007, she added.
Bradley said that people had been especially drawn to smaller cruising and watersports boats and pontoons ― “in other words, boats that are particularly appealing for family recreation. “People are canceling summer trips, they want to stay close to home, and they’re looking for an activity they can do outdoors while social distancing with their families,” Baumgarten explained. “About 95% of Americans live within an hour’s drive of navigable waters. You can enjoy the outdoors and water with your family and loved ones. A day on a boat is a great escape. It feels like you’re on vacation for a day.