Can the evolution of the nautical leisure market in Romania in 2018 be regarded with optimism?

I could say a “YES”, but not with great conviction; it would be an answer said without firmness, but, however, positive. By analysing the variety of offers in this field, we try to believe that there is a balance between demand and offer, and the range of existing services and products represents an answer to the needs of Romanian customers. In reality, however, on certain market segments, our situation is worse than in previous years and sales of second-hand boats continue to remain the top of the Romanian customers’ preferences.

Sailboats

Try, for example, to purchase from the country a new sailboat of 30-50 feet and you will discover that the offers are very limited, almost inexistent, and in most cases only virtual. Part of the potential customers that had such an experience have finally resorted to a purchase from outside the country. They partially solved the problem because, once they arrived in the country with the boat, they discover other deficiencies in the boat’s warranty and maintenance. We can reconcile with the thought that this is the situation with us but, in the meantime, our Bulgarian neighbours are evolving visibly both in terms of services and sales. Thus, part of the famous brands that had representation by dealers in our country as well, are now found only in the portfolio of Bulgarian dealers that can officially cover the Romanian market as well. There is, however, a reason to be optimistic because there are a few Romanian builders that turn their attention to this market segment and, according to our information, there are projects in advanced stages that will soon be finished.

Motorboats

In the motorboats area we have a better situation, and time demonstrate that that only the best ones remained on the scene and enthusiasts joined, eager to make things go in the right direction. We have Romanian builders who have shown that they can do things well, who have occupied and maintained a position in the market, who have proven in time that those who do a good thing and are serious have a chance and are appreciated. On the other hand, we also find problems in 2018 that affect the smooth running of the activities in this segment, such as those related to infrastructure and legislation.

In order to transpose in writing the current image of the nautical field as accurately as possible, we had brief discussions on this issue with representatives of several senior companies, but also with representatives of companies that made their presence felt on the market more recently. How sales evolved as compared to last year, what problems they are facing and how they believe that they could be solved in order to boost the correct development of the represented field.

Mr Cătălin Hagiu, the representative of Marina Brăila company (boats, service and navy dealer) tells us: “For us, 2018 was comparable to 2017, in the meaning that despite the improvement of the general economic indicators, the nautical activities remain in the niche, the appanage of middle class, of young people loving quality leisure time, spent in nature. This niche, unfortunately, cannot grow momentarily for several reasons. Leverages and mechanisms for the development of the nautical sector are related to education, infrastructure, legislation. These subjects cover the Romanian society generally speaking. I hope that along with the improvement of these indicators, the talk about landing places, launch ramps, quays, marine, nautical clubs, nautical schools and other such issues that would facilitate citizens’ access to nautical convenience to come. We look towards the future with trust! The nautical industry is evolving, transforming and, without a doubt, we will continue to spend more and more time on water and on the waterfront. 2019 cannot get out of the patterns we have got used to, but that does not mean that the market stands still or has no chances to grow”.

Mr Gelu Dragomir, the representative of Marine Life (boats and service dealer of Tulcea) says: “For us, 2018 was better as compared to 2017. We had a growth by 40% and we hope that in 2019 we will have a similar growth. But to encourage the growth of this area, we need civilized seas with all the facilities, possibly even accommodation”.

Mr Ovidiu Ciucă, the representative of Ovidiu Prod-Com (the manufacturer of Romcraft boats of Moreni, Prahova County) declared to us: „I will try to answer as brief as possible. In 2018, the production decreased by 9%, the incomes (profit) decreased by 12-14%. The main causes were: inflation, salary policy, the increase of energy and fuels prices. I do not believe that there is a leverage or a mechanism that encourages this field, perhaps the reduction of taxes. I believe that an increase criterion of the nautical sector is population availability to this field by promotion and tourism. In 2019, I believe that we will remain at the same level as in 2017-2018.”

Mr Radion Târziu, the representative of the Cirus Plast company in Constanţa, established in 1994, specialised in the construction of boats and floating structures says: “from a financial point of view, the results in these two years (2017 and 2018) are approximately equal. The spectrum of the market demand slightly changed, less towards small boats and more demands for slightly larger boats. In order to encourage this field, it should be done in such a way that accessing European funds to be more accessible. There are plenty of entrepreneurs who want the opening of water sports. It seems that this activity is not eligible in the Start-up nation, a program that is easier to access. If ANR could interpret rules so that in the “Leisure boats” category, boats with more than 12 persons be admitted as well… It is about commercial leisure, in fact another category than the actual leisure. Currently, between leisure and passenger there is a steep; some intermediate steps would be useful.

In order to boost this area, work must be done on the infrastructure, the seaside has already become inadequate, the fuel stations are absent from the sea etc.. However, I believe that 2019 will be a better year, the nautical sector is growing, however, year after year, with all the national slowness”.

Mr Dragoş Gorgos, the representative of the Fishing Boats Expert company (importer and distributor of Finval boats on the territory of Romania of 2017) says: “For us, like any beginning, it was tedious, being a new brand on the market in Romania, but with a lot of work and determination today we enjoy a large portfolio of clients, a portfolio that is growing. Being passionate about the nautical field and having around open people, with the same passions, we managed to make ourselves known in Romania. Personally, I believe that an appropriate solution for the development of the leisure nautical sector and not only, would be the opening of some pensions near waters, equipped with docks, to facilitate fishermen’s access to and from the water. For 2019, we aim at making our already existing customers loyal and at increasing the portfolio of customers by participating in various interest events and by advertising. Our company is on the way to bring new brands and services to the nautical industry on the local market. Surely we want Fishing Boats Expert to become Company No. 1 in the nautical field”.

Mr Cristian C. Călin, the representative of the Mare Sailing company of Constanţa, specialised in the trade of sports and leisure boats declares: “In 2018, the turnover of Mare Sailing increased by 950%. It is true that 2017 was another year of composition. The trading of boats started only in the last part of 2017. I believe that we can say that 2018 was a very good year for us from all points of view: we opened a market in Romania for small, medium boats and not only, we made new partners for opening recreational bases on certain lakes in Romania. In order to encourage the increase of this field, it requires honesty towards the customer, a program (at least good) of online marketing and perseverance. For 2019, we aimed at consolidating the position on the Romanian market and at the trading of a large part of our products in Eastern, Western, Central Europe and, of course, to our neighbours”.

Motors

In 2018 as well, the motor market for boats was dominated by outboard motors. The importing companies try to keep up with the legislative changes and present to customers more competitive technological solutions meant to reduce the consumption of fuel, costs with maintenance, in parallel with the increase of reliability. However, it continues to remain a delicate problem that affects the good course of their activity, respectively the existence on the market of second-hand motors stolen from all over Europe and put up for sale on the Romanian market. An unfair competition, which could be discouraged more prominently by the competent authorities.

Navigation schools

Navigation schools evolved mostly in 2018. I can say that we are very good at this chapter and we are looking forward for holders of navigation patents to transform into boat owners.

The offer is varied, but a great contribution to the growth of this sport has only 3-4 schools from which most navigators graduated.

Other nautical sports

We are partially good in this field as well … In the last years, young people are increasingly keen to experience more and more other nautical sports that once seemed unapproachable. Scubadiving, kitesurf, windsurf, SUP, wakeboarding are becoming increasingly popular, but on the equipment sales side, national distributors have to fight big companies that tend to expand their operations worldwide by a borderless online approach. Obviously a dealer of scubadiving equipment in Germany, France, etc. who sells equipment annually at 3-400,000 euros will have other discounts as compared to the one in Romania that sells just a few thousand. I hope they will resist and do not forget that a direct purchase from a specialised store, where you are directly counselled, is more than an online cold purchase!

Yacht charter

This is a field that knows a natural growth, and among the most sought destinations by Romanians remain Greece, Croatia and afterwards Italy.

Services

Maintenance services are very important. Their lack or their execution by unqualified personnel makes the possession and use of a boat to turn into something unpleasant, which will remove other possible customers from a hobby that can bring great satisfaction. Unfortunately, this area was affected in 2018 by the lack of qualified staff, the partial migration of existing staff outside the country and wage increases.

Customers

I received numerous emails in 2018 as well, in which boat owners are punctually complaining about the quality of services and point out to companies which, they say, do not do their job properly. On the one hand, I believe some of them, because unfortunately we were also affected as well in one form or another by their unreliability when we interacted with them. We also know that there is, but we cannot generalise, nor verify all the signalled problems. Perhaps, in time, they will disappear as other companies with the same bad habits disappeared. We hope that they are as little affected as possible and perhaps it might be good to warn prospective customers in the future. But as this recommendation could be considered questionable, I allow myself, on the basis of the accrued experience over the 15-16 years of activity in the nautical field but also based on the personal experiences had with most companies in Romania, to recommend the best companies in the nautical field, in which you can trust. Beyond the names of those companies, there are people that respect their customers and promises, who actually do what they say and do not remain in the sphere of promises without fulfilment, there are people that comply with their commitments, people in the true meaning of the word.

Companies that have representations in Romania

Due to the activity carried out but also of our visibility at international level, when information are required from us related to the nautical market in Romania by boats’ manufacturers in Europe and not only, who wish to extend their activity by collaborations on our territory, we try to guide them correctly. Usually, we succeed, but I admit that we also had failures…

Perhaps that a list with the best companies would help both customers and companies that require this information from us (this list is available here! But it is still under progress).

After we analysed the entire information, we can say that in 2018, only 30 boats more than in 2017 were registered. Therefore, as it also resulted from the discussions had with the company representatives, there are not great fluctuations in sales but there are maintenance increases. In 2017, 848 boats were registered, and at the end of 2018, we had registered a total number of 2,070 boats. Most registrations were made last year at Căpitănia Zonală Giurgiu, and most boats are registered at Căpitania Zonală Tulcea.

I hope that in the near future we will have a more developed nautical sector, with many satisfied customers and many marines to correspond to the 21st century!

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