This study will examine the limitations and opportunities for Queensland leisure boat manufacturers to export their products into the Japanese market, which is coming off a relatively low base of consumer ownership of marine craft by world standards and which is expected to steadily increase in the coming years.
The boat manufacturing sector from an Australian viewpoint has followed the fortunes of the domestic and international economy over the past ten years. Emerging from what was essentially a fragmented cottage industry, into a state of the art manufacturing sector incorporating leading edge technology and design has not been an easy step for the industry as a whole.
But whilst the commercial sector of the boat manufacturing industry in Australia has carved out an important market for its products in overseas markets, the leisure boat manufacturing sector has struggled to penetrate these same markets as effectively, for its own products. A handful of leisure craft manufacturers have managed to take the step into export markets successfully, but by and large the majority of leisure craft manufacturers in Australia are still reliant on the small domestic market to sustain their businesses.
The estimated total number of recreational boats in the world is currently over 25 million(Taguchi, 1995:54) with approximately half of these craft in the United States. With boat ownership rising steadily amongst consumers, especially in markets which have not traditionally had a high level of boat ownership, manufacturers of leisure craft have an opportunity to reach a market which has not yet come close to saturation.
This is significant for Queensland which has the highest concentration of leisure boat manufacturers in Australia and which now requires new markets to increase sales, and fund expansion and ongoing research and development of new product lines. For the marine industry to remain a viable production sector in Queensland, increasing export sales from existing levels is a primary requirement for the industry.