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Small Boats Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Product Type (Powered Boat, Sail Boat, Personal Watercraft and Others), By Application Type (Pleasure, Fishing, Defense and Others), and Regional Forecast, 2021-2028

Last Updated: April 08, 2024 | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI103622



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The global small boats market size was USD 25.09 billion in 2020. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with small boats witnessing a positive demand shock across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a modest growth of 4.1% in 2020. The market is projected to grow from USD 26.89 billion in 2021 to USD 57.78 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 11.0% in the 2021-2028 period. The sudden fall in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.

Boats are defined as vessels that are used as a means of transportation and for recreational purposes. Small boats can be categorized into sailboats, powered boats, and watercraft boats, among others. These are different from ships in varied aspects such as design, construction, size, cargo capacities, operational zones, navigation technology, and many others. These boats are particularly found on internal waterways, such as lakes and rivers, or in protected beach areas. With the increasing need for safety and security among people, the demand for such boats is likely to increase among police organizations such as marine or water police. Moreover, the demand for patrolling in water bodies is increasing owing to the growth in peoples’ participation in water sports and water adventure activities, which is expected to promote personal boat sales worldwide. Also, technological advancements and increased R&D investments are also creating growth opportunities for the market.

Market to Show a Momentary Downfall amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The small boats industry faced several challenges amid lockdown in various countries during the first quarter of 2020, however, the sales regained momentum from Q2 onwards, especially in North America and Europe. The situation at the end of 2020 was such that the dealers were overloaded with pending orders and manufacturers were trying hard to fulfill the overwhelming demand. The growth was mainly driven by first-time small boat buyers; the lockdown gave chance to families to share time together in leisure activities. The demand is expected to remain overwhelmed even in 2021.


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Increasing Adoption of Advanced Technologies to Set a Positive Trend for Market Growth

With the advent of technological progress, the marine industry has witnessed an increasing demand for technologically advanced features in different boat types. Technological developments, such as the introduction of quieter and cleaner watercraft, as well as the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technology in boats, are expected to fuel the progress of the boating and marine industry. Also, manufacturers are focusing on installing advanced technologies such as smart sensors, AI, and IoT on boats to provide users with tech functions such as automatic control, infotainment systems, GPS tracking, and smart connectivity. For instance, in September 2020, Garmin launched OnDeck remote boat monitoring system. Besides, the incorporation of these technologies helps personal boat owners to enhance the safety of their boats, thereby increasing their willingness to surf in deep water.

Furthermore, the adoption of nanotechnology allows the user to control the flow conditions of the material during the molding process. Plastic material is gaining high preference from private boats manufacturers owing to its easy availability and cost-effectiveness. Thus, the rapid development and adoption of advanced technologies are expected to boost the sales of small boats.


Rapid Growth in Fishing Activities and Pleasure Riding to Drive Market Growth

A rapid increase in fishing and pleasure riding is anticipated to boost the growth of the market. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, entertainment and pleasure boating generates over USD 100 billion for the United States economy. Moreover, the measures taken by governments of various countries to develop marine tourism have promoted the growth of the market. Measures such as increased investment in the tourism industry, development of infrastructure, and changing regulations are expected to have a positive impact on the tourism industry in the next few years. Besides, companies are targeting the younger generation as there is a rising interest in new forms of outdoor activities that are thrilling and adventurous. The promotion of such activities is encouraging the younger generation to actively opt for boating. Also, the extensive use of outboard boats and watercraft for personal boating and recreational activities across the world is expected to continue during the forecast period.

Introduction of New Products to Boost the Small Boats Market Growth

Over the past few years, prominent shipyards are making constant progress in designing boats. Modern trivial boats are easy to operate and offer massive potential in terms of sailing performance owing to large sail areas. For instance, in September 2020, South African Shipyard Southern Wind announced the launch of the much-anticipated sailing yacht AMMONITE from its facilities in Cape Town. Various manufacturers are offering a comprehensive and exclusive overview of new developments and trends in their products to gain more revenue. Prominent manufacturers of all brands as well as many small boat builders from around the world are using new technologies for yachts and sailing boats. Also, large companies are significantly investing in first-class technology for product innovation and development to achieve a competitive advantage over other market participants. They are also focusing on integrating technologically advanced features such as sensors and GPS. Recreational small boats and watercraft are promising significant growth since fishing boats continue to attract coastal customers. Manufacturers are poised to accomplish inspiring growth as this market responds well to advantages offered by using new materials and the demand from the tourism sector for fun and entertainment purposes.


High Maintenance and Operating Costs May Restrain Market Growth

The key factor affecting the global market is the cost associated with such boats. Moreover, technologically advanced small-size boats have high initial cost and maintenance costs. These factors are likely to hinder the growth of the market during the forecast period. Moreover, the small-scale making of small types of boats by manufacturers and the traditional vendor procedure is hindering the growth of the market. These factors have also affected the growing product demand and the overall marine sector in the small boats market’s forecast period.


By Product Type Analysis

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Powered Boat Segment Dominates the Market

Based on product type, the market is segmented into powered boats, sailboats, personal watercraft, and others. The powered boat segment holds the largest share in the global market. These types of boats are the most common and include bass boats, bowriders, bay boats, cruisers, cuddy cabins, deck boats, and many others. The number of boating events and trade shows is increasing across the world owing to the growing popularity of recreational boating activities among tourists of all age groups. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the retail volume of new motorboats is estimated to have increased by 4% in 2018, thus helping to promote the global small yacht market. Thus, powered boats are anticipated to have the largest share in the market in terms of value and volume.

Moreover, sailboats are commonly used for sail training and recreational activities. These parameters are anticipated to boost the growth of the market over the coming years.

By Application Type Analysis

Fishing Segment to Hold the Largest Market Share

Based on application type, the market is segmented into pleasure, fishing, defense, and others. The fishing segment is estimated to have the highest market share over the coming years owing to the increasing demand for fish products across the globe. Fishing boats are available in different types and sizes that are used in both freshwater and saltwater bodies. These boats possess qualities such as durability, stability, and strength to survive various kinds of waterways and harsh conditions. Aluminum fishing boats are gaining demand and are being widely used by fishermen owing to their lesser weight and high durability. For instance, in July 2019, the Indian Government announced a new scheme to boost fish processing and promote the fishing industry. For this, the Government of India has allocated Rs 3,737 crore to the Ministry of Fishing, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying. 

The fishing segment is followed by the defense and pleasure segments. The significance of such boats is steadily growing in the defense sector, as these boats enable easy access to remote areas for patrolling and rescue operations. Moreover, the pleasure segment is also growing steadily as the buyers are spending more on small boats amid lockdown.


Europe Small Boats Market Size, 2020 (USD Billion)

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The market size in Europe stood at USD 5.16 billion in 2020. The region dominates the small boats market share owing to the increasing prevalence of urbanization and the rising interest in fishing and pleasure tours. The market in Europe is expected to grow at a significant CAGR in the coming years.

The market in North America is projected to exhibit a healthy growth rate owing to the increasing pleasure tours and rise in the number of defense boats. Moreover, several market players in this region are investing a high percentage of their revenues in the marine and fishing industry, which in turn is expected to fuel the demand for these boats. 

Asia Pacific is also expected to show significant growth in the market owing to increased government funding and initiatives to promote the fishing and marine tourism industry. Countries such as India, China, and Australia are witnessing new growth opportunities in the market owing to the rising disposable income of the people in these countries. The rising demand for boating and recreational activities in countries, including India, China, Japan, and Australia, is expected to further boost the regional market growth.

The demand for small boats in the rest of the world including South America and the Middle East & Africa is witnessing moderate growth as the prices of boats in these countries are decreasing due to the entrance of new players in the market.


Group Beneteau, Marine Products Corporation, and Bavaria Yachtbau to Lead the Global Market

The market is fragmented owed to the remarkable distribution network and strong product portfolio of major companies in both the developed and emerging economies. There are various major players in the market. Prominent companies are focusing on developing boats exclusively for fishing in different sizes and are used in both sea and freshwater bodies. The significant qualities of these boats include enhanced durability, strength, and stability to endure fishing projects across various kinds of waterways. 


  • Group Beneteau (France)

  • Marine Products Corporation (Georgia, United States)

  • Brunswick Corporation (Illinois, United States)

  • Mastercraft Boat Company (Tennessee, United States)

  • Sunseeker (United Kingdom)

  • Malibu Boats Inc. (Tennessee, United States)

  • Yamaha Motor Corporation (Shizuoka, Japan)

  • Ferretti (Italy)

  • Bavaria Yachtbau (Germany)

  • Azimut Benetti (Italy)

  • Crestliner Inc. (United States)


  • June 2020 – Mercury Marine Company entered into a contract with Frydenbo to become the favored engine partner of the boat brands Nordkapp and Sting in all global markets.

  • May 2019 – Brunswick Corporation Company bought a Boat Club that helps to navigate choppy business cycles and expand the future market with its fishing boats and pontoons.


An Infographic Representation of Small Boats Market

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The global market research report provides a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on key aspects such as leading companies, product types, and leading applications of the product. Besides this, the report offers insights into the market trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the factors above, the report encompasses several factors that have contributed to the growth of the market over recent years.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



  Value (USD Billion) & Volume (Thousand units)


By Product Type

  • Powered Boat

  • Sail Boat

  • Personal Watercraft

  • Others

By Application Type

  • Pleasure

  • Fishing

  • Defense

  • Others

By Geography

  • North America

  • Europe

  • Asia Pacific

  • Rest of the World

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global small boats market size was USD 25.09 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 57.78 billion by 2028.

In 2020, the Europe small boats market value stood at USD 5.16 billion.

The small boats market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 11.0% and will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2021-2028).

The powered boat segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.

The rapid growth in fishing activities and pleasure riding will drive the markets growth.

Group Beneteau, Marine Products Corporation, and Bavaria Yachtbau are the leading players in the global market.

Europe dominated the market share in 2020.

The introduction of new products is expected to drive the adoption of small-size boats.

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