Maritime Affairs

Shaping a prosperous future for nautical tourism in Europe

Shaping a prosperous future for nautical tourism in Europe

Shaping a prosperous future for nautical tourism in Europe


The Commission published a Staff Working Document on Nautical Tourism. Nautical tourism includes activities in coastal and offshore marine waters, e.g. boating, yachting, boat-based angling and wildlife watching, kayaking as well as other harbour and marina-based activities.

This sector can provide economic opportunities for coastal communities, and the paper describes several areas where action is needed to unleash this potential and overcome existing obstacles to growth. It also stresses the need to minimise adverse environmental impacts.

About one in ten EU citizens (48 million) participate regularly in water sports. 36 million participate regularly in boating activities, keeping about 6 million boats in European waters. Related services like equipment repair, boat charter, marinas and others generate a significant number of jobs and revenue.  In total, the EU's nautical tourism sector comprises up to 234 000 jobs and generates € 28 billion in revenue each year.

Issues addressed in the paper include:

  • recognition of professional and private skippers licences - 74% of professional skippers confirm that they are unable to work freely within the EU because their professional qualifications are not recognised in other EU member states;
  • on-board safety equipment – a variety of rules and equipment required on board is hindering freedom of movement across the EU single market;
  • innovation for marinas and boating development – marinas need to become more innovative to keep them accessible to an ageing population and to make them attractive to younger people and families;
  • the potential of combined nautical and coastal tourism products – combined products can help the tourism sector cope with seasonality and volatile demand;
  • what happens to end of life boats – at least 80,000 boats reach their 'end of use' each year but only around 2,000 of those are dismantled. The rest are left abandoned, stored by their last owners, sent to landfill or incinerated. This poses a threat to the environment and a recycling challenge, and should be addressed properly.

The paper follows from the 2014 Commission Communication  "A European Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism", which touched upon some of the challenges faced by the nautical tourism sector. They include a lack of innovation and diversification, volatile demand and seasonality, mismatch of skills and qualifications as well as growing environmental pressures.

More information:

Staff Working Document on Nautical Tourism

Study: Assessment of the Impact of Business Development Improvements around Nautical Tourism