Letter from Finland November 2021 | Dr Jouko Huju, DBA, GMBA Finland

Who is responsible for being vocal about improving boating related services?

The economic impact of boating is huge.  Cities, communities and governments earn in form of taxes and other income.  In my view the question is, if those who earn are investing back to improve boating related services.  The Island Council, appointed by the Finnish Government, commissioned a study (2021) to find out what the real impacts in the economy and employment are.  It is good to remember that Finland has the highest per capita boat density in the world with over a million boats (5,5 mill inhabitants) and a season on max 5 months.  The question is if the industry and boaters are vocal enough to demand better services in return?

The overall findings show that the growing popularity of boating creates a total income of over 400 mill. € in terms of direct spending of boaters. This income employs directly over 2500 people and indirectly another 3800 people. In this country those are big numbers. The biggest shares of spending go to fuel, restaurant services, service/maintenance purchases and groceries.  The boaters from their side wish better waste collection and recycling points, places to empty septic tanks, places to get drinking water and fuel stations.  Fuel is a big problem in Finland’s vast archipelago.  The season is short and all kinds of safety regulations are becoming more stringent. The study shows that boaters want to be responsible and they wish to ensure that boating is environmentally sustainable from all angles.  The newest generation of boaters are busy people and they want to spend their time on water just boating.  They wish to be able to buy most services and not spend time maintaining the boat or worrying about winter storage or engine service.

Boat sales are soaring in most boating countries around the world.  Some say even with production boats the whole production of 2022 is booked. Companies report double turnovers and huge demand. The production at the moment is concentrating on its own problems of delivering what has been sold.  This is only natural. Who is then responsible for making noise about boating related services out on the water?  You might say that it is the boaters themselves.  And the related organizations.  In many countries though, you would need a joint voice of the boaters, the industry and the respective organizations. I also believe this topic should be covered by the media more than it is now.

The pandemic has been a major reason for the increased sales. In many cases the new boaters may expect that boating related services are just as good as e.g. with cars. There may be some disappointments. I am sure there are many working groups and committees dealing with these matters as we speak. The road maybe slow but for a sustainable growth in the number of boaters, one septic tank emptying place, one more recycling station or waste deposit place already make a huge difference. In the North European waters finding fuel stations starts to determine your routes.  To improve any of these a co-operation between private entrepreneurs and regional/national authorities is needed.  In my country a lot of good people already work on these issues.

The question is if the improvements can be done quickly enough to ensure that we can keep all those new boaters we now have.

Dr Jouko Huju DBA, GMBA-Finland
+358 40 5509310

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