SABBEX report reveals true value of watersports economy

A surf a day keeps the blues at bay. But 50 000 surf lessons a year in Muizenberg puts a huge smile on the face of the South African economy.

That’s one of several encouraging findings to come out of a study of the local water sports industry intiated by the South African Boat Builders Export Council together with key researchers from UCT.

Add to that about 14 000 kite surfers and windsurfers, most of them foreigners, descending on the Western Cape en masse at an average spend of around R100K each.

“Do the maths,” says SABBEX chairman Bruce Tedder. “That’s about half a billion rand into the local economy from the stretch of coast from Milnerton to Langebaan.”

And it doesn’t stop there.  Kayaking, Standup Paddleboarding, rubberducking – all significant components of a thriving watersports economy that Tedder believes should be viewed holistically in order to maximize marketing and investment opportunities.

Life might start out on a surfboard, then a SUP, then a Kiteboard, then a rubberduck, then a small yacht, then a big cruising catamaran — lets hope that’s how the story goes,” says Tedder, who has dabbled in most watersports on the list. “Research in USA has shown that if a person has not bought their first boat by the age of 35 then it is unlikely they ever will. By getting hard data and linking with the players in the Ocean Sports Economy we can only grow the watersports pie for all of our benefit.”

By highlighting the linkages between sports, SABBEX hopes to highlight how a 13-year-old ‘grom’ carving waves in Muizenberg has relevance to large custom-catamaran producers in Paarden Island.  It’s a case of “Get Them Young”, such that in future they choose to spend their future income on the water rather than in the shopping mall.

Understanding the dynamics of this economy could assist government and other relevant stakeholders devise relevant growth strategies.  Says Tedder:  “People who surf, kite, sup, ski, lifesavers, dive, ocean kayak will be users of all manner of equipment. They use carbon, epoxy, grp, foams in manufacturing; they build for export, are world champions, train, have internationally accredited courses, have opportunities for growth,  have bottlenecks to growth, and need assistance from the City, the Province, the dti, SAMSA, SA Sailing, Lifesaving SA, SA Tourism, CT Tourism and many of the same entities we as Sabbex/Boating SA deal with.”

“The only way we can unlock the full potential of the Ocean Economy is to fully understand the entire makeup of that economy and understand the links between the Boatbuilding Sector and the Ocean Sports Sector AND then deal with linking them,” says Tedder.

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