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Nautical tourism and competitiveness in the superyacht market
Nautical tourism is a little explored and little known phenomenon due to the lack of studies available, no universal definition and the fact that it is not part of the analysis of official tourism statistics.
However, for several years, Italy has been the world’s leading country in terms of superyacht orders.
In 2016, Italy accounted for 42.5% of global superyacht orders: 326 orders out of a world total of 760.
The analysis carried out revealed that 2009 was the top year in terms of worldwide construction orders, resulting in the completion of 1,019 new ships; 523 of these, equivalent to over half (51.3%), were made in Italy.
The widespread economic crisis subsequently led to a decrease in the number of orders, a situation which lasted until 2013 worldwide and 2014 for Italian shipyards. Since then, the industry has seen a new growth, returning as a driving force for sea-based economy.
This article, which has the aim of bridging the lack of knowledge about nautical tourism, reveals the geographic areas where the largest pleasure boats (superyachts) are located during specific times of the year. Automatic Identification System (AIS) technology was used to detect their position in August 2016 and at the end of January 2017.
The analysis also highlights a weakness for Italy, which fails to attract in the winter period, unlike other countries such as Greece or Spain.
Overall, however, research confirms that Italy is very competitive in the superyacht tourism sector inasmuch as, on a par with the Côte d’Azur, it was the destination where most boats were concentrated in August 2016.
The research, despite its limitations, aims to provide useful starting points for preparing a national strategy to achieve greater competitiveness in the tourist sector; in this way, it represents an incentive for reflection and a starting point for future research in nautical tourism.