CII International Boating Conference 2011: The Industry Needs A Voice

The focus of the CII International Boating Conference was to get an ‘Industry Status’ for boating in India and discover a way forward through discussion, debate and dialogue. The boating industry of India has surprisingly developed rapidly into a sizeable one but is at present segmented and scattered all over in a haphazard manner. It needs to find an “Identity” or a singular voice that distinctly distinguishes it from the rest of the industries. It is a known fact that past policies and lack of infrastructure have been the major stumbling blocks and the need of the hour is a ‘revival of boating’ in India. Everyone knows what is required to be done but does anyone know how to get it done?

Finance happens to be the least of all worries as there are plenty of parties who will willingly put their money down for the infrastructure of this industry. Technical challenges exist but these too can be overcome with expertise. So, what will it take for the Government to recognize boating as an ‘industry’, make new rules and regulations for boating and get moving on its infrastructure development? Do we as an industry have the required scale? If yes then it has to show and it can only do so if the industry comes together as one to move that mountain called the Government. According to Mr. Kiran Kurundkar, Managing Director, MTDC, ‘simplification of things and unity of command’ can lead to the Government taking the very first step, getting adequate permissions in place.

For some people water is life, for the rest of us, life is water! Tourism along waterfronts, beaches and marinas constitute a trillion dollar industry in the world. For the sake of those who enjoy life that revolves around water it is time to do away with the old and revive boating in India. These were the striking comments made by Mr. Ashwini Kakkar, Executive Vice Chairman, Mercury Travels Ltd., who also talked of the emergence of the ‘earn & burn generation’ who do not believe in saving and like to spend on the latest trends. They are the young professionals and entrepreneurs of India. There are also the increasing number of HNIs and the 30 million NRIs! If even one in ten thousand were to buy a boat, we’d have a mammoth of an industry in place!

According to Mr. Simon Arrol, Technical Director and Chief Operating Officer, Marina India and Marinetek India, 80% of the boats present on the Indian waters are approximately 18 feet in length which means there is a majority of small pleasure boats. This proves that the buying potential resides significantly in the middle class. A marina would double this potential. As mentioned earlier, finances to fund such projects are in plenty but lack of permissions hinder the smallest kind of development. Internationally, the government leases out land to build a marina for 30-50-75 to even 150 years. In India the figure stands at 15, unrealistic and unacceptable! He concluded by saying, “Objection comes as an outcome of ignorance and it is up to us to provide the right information and change it.”

Besides potential buyers, India is flooded with potential boat builders! Mr. Ashok Thakkar, Chairman, Club & Sailing Dev. Committee, YAI, and Commodore TNSA, strongly feels that India has lost out on yacht building to Thailand and China. Many international boat manufacturers from USA, UK, Italy & the Middle East have been trying to enter the India Market. Indian Multinationals have also stepped in to build boats and cash in on the rising trend. Whether we are aiming at boatyards or marinas, permissions, laws and policies play the first and most important role in getting things rolling.

For boating to keep growing in Mumbai, Mr. Maneck Davar, Chairman Mumbai Boat Show Pvt. Ltd., advises us to look beyond the Gateway of India, probably across the harbor or the coastline of Maharashtra. The new Mandwa jetty is disappointing. It is a fine example of how things are carried forth without adequate thought and planning and are not even seen through. Other infrastructure like the sea link still gives us hope of some possible and worthwhile development. According to him, the political mind in India works on the principle of the largest common denominator or the highest common factor, the largest positive integer that divides the numbers without a remainder. The government must fully be convinced of the boost that the national economy will receive with the onset of leisure Boating in India. From trends like marina hopping to boatyards and ancillaries, boating can singularly influence a great positive change in the socio-economic development of the nation. He remarks, “With the support of the CII we are a work in progress. The importance and success of this conference is what we are able to do and achieve after this conference. This industry must find its identity… come together on a large scale, move mountains, create inroads… and for that to happen, something’s gotta give!”

To conclude, major hurdles faced by the Boating industry today are:

  1. Recognition as an Industry
    2. Lack of Infrastructure
    3. Taxation
    4. Certification
    5. Safety & Security
    6. Licensing

The objective of this conference was to recognize Boating as a separate industry and discuss and initiate optimal utilization of India’s Waterfront both coastal and inland. Thus the theme: Indian Boating Inc. – Harnessing India’s Waterfront

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) works to create and sustain an environment conducive to the growth of industry in India, partnering industry and government alike through advisory and consultative processes. CII is a non-government, not-for-profit, industry led and industry managed organisation, playing a proactive role in India’s development process. Founded over 115 years ago, it is India’s premier business association, with a direct membership of over 8100 organisations from the private as well as public sectors, including SMEs and MNCs, and an indirect membership of over 90,000 companies from around 400 national and regional sectoral associations. CII catalyses change by working closely with government on policy issues, enhancing efficiency, competitiveness and expanding business opportunities for industry through a range of specialised services and global linkages. To know more about the CII visit:

Suggestions and recommendations both for the Mumbai International Boat Show as well as the overall industry are welcome. If you would like to share your feedback and ideas, do get in touch on the following address:

Contact Us:

Mumbai Boat Show Pvt. Ltd.
(A Spenta Multimedia Company)
Peninsula Spenta,
Mathuradas Mill Compound,
NM Joshi Marg, Lower Parel,
Mumbai – 400 013, India.
Tel.(D): +91-22-64515819, 64515820.
Fax: +91 22 – 2481 1021

Contact Alpa Antani
Tel: +91 22 6451 5819 / 5820

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