National

Pleasure boat industry bids to attract young people with services and cheaper activities

Kyodo

The pleasure boat industry is putting greater effort into attracting young people and women to its services and events, including boat-sharing offered at cheaper prices.

The industry is seeking to expand its market beyond the core customers it has had until now — men in their 50s and 60s — by taking advantage of the increased preference among consumers to spend money on experiences rather than goods.

Yamaha Motor Co. has been offering its Sea-Style Jet rental service for jet skis since 2013. Around half of its members are in their 30s or younger, with a rising number of women.

Under its Sea-Style Light program for those without boating licenses, which does not require monthly fees, members can take cruises, fish and engage in other marine leisure activities offered at 20 marinas nationwide.

The membership of Yamaha’s regular Sea-Style boat rental services doubled to 22,000 in the decade to 2017. The monthly fee is ¥3,240 and the price for a boat on a weekday starts at ¥4,400 for three hours. Its services include fishing and barbecuing.

“The rental cost is fixed, so it is less burdensome and easy to recommend to young people,” a male member said after enjoying a cruise at Yokohama Bayside Marina.

“I want to create opportunities for more people to go out to sea,” said Yasuhiro Murasawa of Yamaha’s marine business division, which is seeking to increase activities catering to beginners.

In March, the Japan Marine Industry Association organized for the first time a seminar featuring boat fishing lectures for women and a study session on ways to enjoy rides on small inflatable boats, during an annual international boat show.

The organization hopes to double in 10 years the number of individuals enjoying marine leisure activities and is planning to propose more recreational programs at sea that people can easily join.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism also launched its C to Sea Project in 2017 to back industry efforts to familiarize children and young people with marine activities. By disseminating online information, the ministry aims to invigorate the boating market.