South Carolina Boating & Fishing Alliance (SCBFA) celebrates surge in recreational boating industry, unveils impressive economic impact figures

August 16, 2023

Despite a pandemic and uncertain economic conditions, recreational boating in South Carolina has surged to an all-time high with a 67% increase in total economic impact on the state and an 80% increase in jobs since 2018. Boat sales rose by more than 35% in the same period.

The 80% increase in jobs in South Carolina, 27,100, is the largest increase of any state in the south, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The boating industry’s economic impact on the state has jumped from $3.9 billion in 2018 to $6.5 billion this year. Annual sales of new boats, engines, trailers, and accessories have gone from $661 million to $895 million in the same period. These numbers do not include the state’s fishing industry which includes the three largest fishing tackle manufacturers in the world.

The figures were compiled by the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

“These remarkable economic impact numbers underscore the critical role of recreational boating in fueling South Carolina’s economy,” said Gettys Brannon, President & CEO of the South Carolina Boating & Fishing Alliance. “As we witness the industry’s substantial growth, we are reminded of the countless opportunities it presents for job creation, business expansion, and community development. The South Carolina Boating & Fishing Alliance remains dedicated to fostering a thriving and sustainable boating ecosystem, one that ensures both economic prosperity and environmental stewardship.”

In the past two years, SCBFA founding members Bentley Pontoons, Scout Boats, Sea Fox Boats, Sea Pro Boats, and Sportsman Boats have announced substantial expansions. These announcements included Scout’s expansion to accommodate the creation of their 670 LX Series luxury sportfishing boat, the largest fiberglass center console boat in the world, and the makers of Sportsman unveiling of a new company, Phenom Yachts.

Nationwide, recreational boating continues to thrive, contributing a staggering $230.3 billion annually to the economy. As a whole, the industry supports 812,558 jobs and sustains 36,101 businesses across the nation. While annual sales of new boats, engines, trailers, and accessories contribute an impressive $31.4 billion to the overall economic landscape.

The SCBFA continues to cultivate and ensure the long-term vitality of recreational boating and fishing in South Carolina. By collaborating with stakeholders, industry partners, and government entities, SCBFA fosters a supportive environment with a steadfast commitment to promoting responsible boating practices, conservation efforts, and enhancing public access to waterways.

As the state of South Carolina celebrates the momentous growth of its recreational boating industry, the SCBFA invites individuals, businesses, and communities to join in its mission to preserve and enrich the boating experience for all. South Carolina’s largest boat manufacturers will showcase SC-Made boats on September 23rd as a part of SCBFA’s Third Annual “Boat, Fish, Football Expo” at Gamecock Village outside Williams-Brice Stadium before the South Carolina Gamecocks play the Mississippi St. Bulldogs. Time to be announced.

For a link to additional state’s studies click here.


About the South Carolina Boating & Fishing Alliance

The South Carolina Boating and Fishing Alliance (SCBFA) is a nonprofit organization representing the state’s boat and fishing tackle manufacturers, who have a $6.5+ billion a year economic impact in the state and support 27,100 jobs. Industry members, along with dealers, retailers, boaters, and anglers, are working together to protect and grow this important economic sector while engaging in public policy issues to conserve the state’s important waterways. The SCBFA was officially launched in February 2021. Chris Butler of Butler Marine chairs the SCBFA.

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