MA Boating Economic Impact Study


In April of 2001, the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association (MMTA) commissioned a survey of the marine trades to establish a range of basic benchmark economic statistics that demonstrate the contribution the recreational marine trades make to the economy of Massachusetts.

Since the last survey of this type was conducted over 12 years ago, the MMTA has conservatively estimated the marine industry's contribution to the Massachusetts economy has increased significantly. Indeed, with its nearly 1500 miles of coastline, over 2700 square miles acres of inland waters, and roughly 1260 (1) marine trade businesses and individuals, the Massachusetts recreational marine economy is one of the most vibrant marine economies in New England and in the country. A state rich in maritime history and culture, Massachusetts recreational boaters account for roughly 15% (2) of the spending on recreational boating in the United States and generate nearly $1.5 billion dollars for the Massachusetts economy. (3)

The following statistics outline a modern industry adapting to the challenges of today's marketplace while retaining many of the traits that make it a traditional Massachusetts industry. Recreational boating and the marine trades are a "critical and emerging" (4) industry that not only contributes to the economic strength and well-being of Massachusetts, but also to the state's residents and those who travel to our shores.

The Massachusetts Waterfront

Massachusetts has 1500 miles of saltwater coastline.

Roughly 45 percent of Massachusetts' 10,555 square miles are in the saltwater coastal zone.

Nearly 5 million Massachusetts residents, three-quarters of the state's population, live within 10 miles of the ocean. In addition, the state's boaters have access to nearly 1200 fresh and saltwater ramps and public access points to the state's countless freshwater lakes, streams and ponds.

There are over 186,000 registered and Coast Guard documented boats in the State of Massachusetts. (1)

On any given high-season weekday, between 56,000 to 90,000 Massachusetts residents go boating on the state's waterways. (2)

On an average high-season weekend, the numbers of boaters enjoying recreational boating jumps to between 130,000 to 195,000. (2)

Massachusetts boaters' annual spending on new boats, engines, trailers, and accessories. $192,917,000 (3)

Total estimated combined spending attributable to the recreational boating experience in Massachusetts = $1,700,000,000 (4)

Economic Development

Marinas, as well as passive and active recreational waterfront access, have significant economic benefit to the immediate and surrounding communities.

There are roughly 25,000 permitted, publicly administrated slips and moorings used for recreational boating along the coastline of Massachusetts. In addition, there are an estimated 10,000 privately maintained slips, moorings and docks along the Massachusetts coast. It is estimated that this fleet of boaters generate $297.5500,000 in spending surrounding their recreational boating experience on a variety of services such as repairs, insurance, supplies, and groceries.

These purchases generate tax revenue for the State. Assuming a flat 5 percent sales tax, economic activity related to recreational boating would generate a significant $15 million in sales tax collections. Furthermore, studies of the waterfront economy have shown that multiplier values for even non-tourist-oriented recreational marinas range between two and three. Consequently, for every dollar spent at the marina, two to three dollars of income is pumped into the local community. In a state such as Massachusetts, which draws $1.5 billion in coastal tourism, the multipliers can be argued significantly higher, perhaps as high as ten to fourteen.

  • 35,000 moorings and slips (1)
  • $297,500,000 in peripheral and associated spending (2)
  • $14,875,000 total sales tax collected on peripheral spending (3)
  • $1,338.750,000 net effect on the local communities from peripheral spending

The Ripple Effect

A new 100-slip marina is being built in Provincetown at a total cost of $18 million dollars. Engineers are brought in, contractors place bids, employees are hired, and construction begins.

The construction and operation of a marina have substantial one-time and lasting benefits to the state and the local community. Increased employment, wages, and the ultimate enhancement of the tax base all result from new waterfront development.

In addition to providing more access points to the waterfront and additional recreational opportunities for the public, facilities designed around boating and docking in particular have been found to increase residential real estate values between 25 and 75 percent with consequent increases in tax revenues from higher real estate assessments. (1)