Press Releases

Boating Participation Increases to 73 Million Americans in 2006
Number of U.S. adults boating last year jumps 1.3 million above 2005 total; boats in use and boat registration figures also increase

CHICAGO, May 22, 2007 – One-third (73 million) of U.S adults went boating in 2006, a participation increase of approximately 1.3 million Americans from the 2005 total (71.3 million), according to findings from the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s (NMMA) 2006 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, released today by the association. The Abstract highlights boating sales and participation numbers complied on behalf of the recreational boating industry throughout calendar year 2006.

Coinciding with the increase in boater participation, the Abstract also reveals the number of boats in use increased to nearly 18 million, and boat registrations surpassed 13 million for the first time since 2001. What’s more, the industry grew to an all-time high of $39.5 billion in U.S. sales and services in 2006, a six percent increase from the previous year.

“We are excited to see boater participation increase to 73 million because it reinforces our belief that more and more people are finding out that getting out on the water is one of the best ways to relax, have fun and enjoy time with friends and family,” says Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “We are proud of the contribution the boating industry and boat owners make to the U.S. economy and the marine industry is dedicated to sharing the fun and relaxation of being on the water with as many people as possible.”

While total boat unit and dollar sales were up more than five percent—buoyed by growth in ski/wakeboard boats, personal watercraft, canoes and kayaks—the traditional powerboat segment saw a decrease in unit sales of nearly five percent to 291,900 total units in 2006. 

“Though new powerboat sales were down slightly, the increase in boating participation bodes well for better sales in the years ahead,” says Dammrich. “We anticipated flat to slightly down powerboat sales as higher interest rates and the malaise in the housing market impacted consumer confidence throughout the year.”

Total new boat dollar sales edged upward two percent to $11.5 billion, reflective of an overall increase in the price of traditional powerboats, which also increased two percent to $9.6 billion. NMMA attributes these increases to a rise in production costs for manufacturers, including the escalating price of petroleum-based inputs and efforts to develop cleaner, more fuel-efficient engine technology.

 “These increases clearly demonstrate boating is well within the reach of average Americans, allowing them an opportunity to make life long memories with their families aboard a boat,” says Dammrich. “The Grow Boating Initiative is now in its second year, and we believe it will further increase sales in 2008, 2009 and beyond by demonstrating to would-be boaters the many lifestyle benefits of spending time on the water.”

The 2006 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract will be available June 1. Only a hard-copy format will be offered. All NMMA members will receive one free copy of the Abstract, which will be mailed on May 31; additional copies may be ordered at the member-discounted price of $250 each. The Abstract will also be made available for purchase to non-NMMA members at a cost of $750 each.

Copies of the 2006 Abstract may be ordered by contacting NMMA fulfillment coordinator Chris Keil at (312) 946-6209;

For more information on the 2006 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, contact NMMA trade communications manager Lindsey Johnson at (312) 946-6204;

National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the leading association representing the recreational boating industry. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories and gear used by boaters and anglers in the United States. The association is dedicated to industry growth through programs in public policy, market research and data, product quality assurance and marketing communications.


Lindsey Johnson