The Dubai International Boat Show 2023 set a new benchmark for boating shows worldwide by showcasing remarkable consumer trends that have set new standards for the boating industry. The event featured AED 2.5 billion worth of boats and yachts on display, with over 1,000 companies and brands from 60 countries, attracting visitors to explore a diverse range of boats, from small dinghies to luxurious superyachts, along with the latest maritime accessories, and technologies.
The 29th edition of the show, which took place at the stunning seafront district of Dubai Harbour, saw over 50 global and regional launches at the show and revealed some exciting industry trends that reflect the changing preferences and expectations of the sector in 2023 and beyond.
Five Key Industry Developments
- The demand for yachting is showing no signs of slowing down:
The global boat-building market is expected to reach over $47 billion in 2027. The global electric boat market was valued is projected to reach $16.6 billion by 2031; and the global luxury yacht market is also growing, expected to reach $12.8 billion by 2031. In line with this upward pace, exhibitors at the Dubai International Boat Show 2023 unanimously reported strong lead generation and sales over the five-day event.
Fairwinds were also blowing for Italian-headquartered Sanlorenzo Yachts. Michel Torbey, Sales Representative Middle East said the brand closed three deals for a total value of AED 390 million (EUR100 million). Yachts 1, the official dealer of Princess Yachts, Sanlorenzo, Cranchi, SEABOB, Al Dhaen and Williams Jet Tenders, converted five deals valued at AED 78 million (EUR20 million), said Nader Dara, Sales and Operations Manager at Yachts 1.
Exhibiting at Dubai International Boat Show boosted sales for GCC dealer SF Yachts. CEO Francesco Pitea said the brand achieved AED 30 million in sales. According to John Bush, co-founder of Bush and Noble – the exclusive dealers for Sunseeker Gulf across the GCC – the brand yielded four deals for a total of AED 39 million (9 million GBP). “We’ve had constant visitors, great quality clients. Every day, we had 12 potential buyers on the stand. We couldn’t be happier,” Bush said.
SAY Yachts, Sunreef Yachts and Azimut Benetti also expected a number of deals to be closed soon after the event ended, with Gulf Craft reporting a record number of visitors to its stand every day. Several deals were secured, with five more still under discussion, revealed Abeer Al Shaali, Deputy Managing Director, Gulf Craft.
- Sustainability is top of the agenda for owners and brands alike:
Dubai International Boat Show highlighted innovations and features that promote sustainable yachting. The increasing demand for eco-friendly yachts is evident, as more than half of the visitors to Sunreef Yachts’ stand expressed interest in such yachts. According to Marta Sledziewska, Head of Marketing and PR at Sunreef Yachts, customers are mindful of the impact of their lifestyle on the environment and are looking for a different type of yacht that offers complete silence on the water.
Lena Dobschall, Head of Marketing and Sales at SAY Yachts Dubai, said that their boats featured carbon fibre technology, which made for sustainable boating as they were 50% lighter, 50% more efficient, and used 50% less fuel. SAY Yachts is launching the SAY 52, which will feature a hybrid engine, reflecting the growing demand for electric engines in the yachting industry.
- A new audience of first-time buyers is emerging:
Recreational boating is seeing a fresh wave of new buyers, who are on average 15 years younger than they were 20 years ago and less likely to come from boat-owning families. This data was echoed by the experience of companies at the Dubai International Boat Show. SF Yachts’ Francesco Pitea said: “I’m pleased to say that this has been our best participation yet at the boat show. We have seen a lot of new, younger customers compared to previous editions, which is a very important thing for the whole industry.”
Bush & Noble’s John Bush also reported seeing a change in customer profile at his stand. “[They are] people who’ve moved to Dubai in the last couple of years and recognise that the seasons are very long here and that the facilities are great. There’s been a real mix of nationalities and demographics as well, which is great.”
- Innovation is driving the future of yachting in real-time:
Innovation was another trend that dominated the Dubai International Boat Show 2023. Companies showcased their latest advancements in technology, such as advanced navigation systems that can withstand strenuous conditions as well as help clients deliver improvements in efficiency, safety and smaller carbon footprint and cutting-edge propulsion systems like the end-to-end hybrid MTU Yacht Propulsion Solution distributed by Al Masaood. The show also featured electric and hybrid boats from companies including Trident Marine Services and Silent Yachts, highlighting a move towards alternative energy sources in the boating industry.
- Luxury and customisation are still the order of the day:
Added features and personalised touches was another trend that caught visitors’ attention, with SF Yachts’ Francesco Pitea saying that they had sold several boats on display, including the Riviera 77, an enclosed flybridge sportsfisher built by Australia’s most awarded luxury yacht builder for which SF Yachts managed the custom design. “People don’t really think of luxury when they hear the words fishing boat, but people that have seen our boats all end up saying that they don’t see it as fishing boats. Riviera 77, for example, taps into the growing demand for sports fishers with long range, high speeds and elegant superyacht design,” he said.
According to Sanlorenzo Yachts’ Michel Torbey, the brand’s audience is mainly looking for customisable and high-end yachts and boats that they can use every day, as the vessel becomes the destination and a new younger audience demand a fresh look for their craft. “Some of them want owner-friendly boats, and others want vessels with a captain and crew. No two yachts can look the same; they all depend on the owner,” he added.
Driving Growth in Sales
As well as keeping pace with current buying trends, the Dubai International Boat Show 2023 undoubtedly set a new standard for the industry, breaking new ground in boating design and sustainability. The event’s success for its exhibitors demonstrated the yachting industry’s ability to meet the growing demand for eco-friendly and sustainable solutions while providing high-performance and comfortable designs.
The future of the industry looks bright, with a growing customer base seeking innovative solutions to their yachting needs that drive growth in sales and encourage research and development to push new horizons.