Australia’s 356 marinas are very significant and resilient economic and employment hubs contributing to economic development in a number of ways. These include economic activity, direct employment, leasing space to other businesses, providing business opportunities to many private contractors, and payments to government in the form of taxes and lease fees.

The Marina Industries Association of Australia (MIAA) believe that the economic, (and indeed the social and environmental) benefits of professionally managed marinas are not fully understood nor valued. To assist and address these industry challenges the MIAA has been working closely with the internationally respected Michigan State University based Recreation Marine Research Centre for a number of years. The provision of creditable data will enable more evidence based policy and planning decisions to be made by governments. Furthermore communities can be better informed about the many positive economic, social and environmental impacts of marinas.

Marinas are an important component of Australia’s wider recreational marine industry representing approximately 20% of all economic activity [1] . Based on research for the 2010/11 period [2] the total gross revenues generated by Australian marinas (including tenants’ revenues but excluding contractors) was $1.65b or $4.66m per marina. This figure is based on marina revenues of $779,797,000 and 2,450 marina tenant revenues of $869,965,100 [3]. It is noteworthy that contractors’ economic activity at marinas is also very significant and during the 2010/11 period the total number of contractors at marinas was 12,470.

Marinas are more resilient to economic cycles than is commonly recognised. For example 77% of Australian marinas reported that their gross revenue earned during 2010/11 was equal to or greater than that in 2009/10 [4] . In 2011 only 4% of Australian marinas expected a decline in revenue for the 2011/12 period.

While boat storage is a core function of a marina it is important to note this is not the major source of income for all marinas. For example 2008/09 [5] research indicated that approximately 40% of marinas have restaurant/F&B facilities and for many of these marinas this function was the largest source of revenue. Combined with other social and recreational events at marinas such as ‘try sailing’ days, the research highlights that marinas deliver valuable social and community benefits in addition to their role as an economic hub.

Marinas make a significant contribution to government revenues through the payment of taxes and charges. It is estimated that in 2010/11 Australian marinas (excluding tenants and contactors) paid $109,673,000 in various federal, state and local taxes, charges and lease payments, including state land tax, state tax on gaming revenues, local council rates, GST on marina sales, GST on marina purchases, state and local water and/or land leases.

Marinas are also strong and sustainable employment hubs. This is particularly valuable in regional coastal communities where job creation can be difficult. More than 15,900 people were employed at Australian marinas during the 2010/11 period. Marinas directly employed approximately 3,800 people and tenants approximately 12,125. Additionally, it is estimated 12,100 contractors, mostly small independent businesspersons, provided services (e.g., repairs, installation, cleaning) to the marinas and their tenants and renters.

In 2011 only 3% of marinas expected to employ less people in 2011/12 than they employed for the 2010/11 period. This highlights the resilience of marinas during a time of subdued economic activity in Australia.

MIAA believe Australian marinas are making a valuable and sustainable economic and employment contribution that needs to be more fully understood and acknowledged. Marinas can play an even more significant role to assist the economy and local employment if they are appropriately acknowledged in government plans and policies as valuable and sustainable drivers of economic and employment activity.

1 Ref. AIMS Index of the Marine Industry Data. Published Dec. 2010
2 Ref. 2011 Health of the Australian Marina Industry Survey - Australian Marinas, Economic, Social and Employment Performance, Report 2 Published Mar 2012.
3 Marina tenant revenues are based on tenant rent representing 10% of total gross turnover (excluding boat broker total gross revenue but using a 6% ave. gross margin). The mean tenant rental amount of $327,534 (Table 12 in Report 2) is multiplied by 10 to give $3,275,340 representing mean gross revenue; then multiplied by 265 (representing the 75% of 354 marinas that according to the Report have tenants)to arrive at the figure of $869,965,100.
4 Ref. 2011 Health of the Australian Marina Industry Survey. Financial performance and Trends, Report 1. Published Jan 2012
5 Ref. MIAA Australian Marina Value Pilot Study Published May 2011