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The South African boat building industry, currently worth well over R1 billion annually, holds enormous potential for the country’s economy, the City of Cape Town said on Sunday.

In a statement following the South African Boat Builders Export Council’s (SABBEX) annual industry awards and dinner held on Thursday, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management, James Vos, said the city was currently exploring ways to support the industry and how best to address problems such as skills development and access to land.

”We are keen to support sectors such as boat building to facilitate accelerated economic growth, job creation, and economic inclusion through skills development,” he said.

According to SABBEX, the boat building industry was worth R1.4 billion annually, while it was estimated that oceans sports could bring in R1.2 billion a year.

Vos said he and Cape Town mayor Dan Plato had earlier this year visited two boat building yards in Cape Town – Voyage Yachts and Two Oceans Marine Manufacturing in Paarden Island – to ”experience first-hand what makes the local multi-billion rand building industry tick”.

Since 2014, this industry had secured investments worth R30 billion and created over 7000 direct jobs in the oceans economy. The industry exported 90% of the products manufactured and attracted a positive trade balance of around $73 million, or over R1 billion, annually.

The city’s enterprise and investment department had worked closely with SABBEX and the sector this year on priorities to help promote and market the industry in South Africa and internationally at events such as the Miami International Boat Show. They would also engage with the sector on various aspects such as the problems they faced, join them to celebrate their success stories, and help to cut red-tape to enable the ease of doing business.

The city had also invested in research to get a better understanding of future opportunities and the industry.

”Preliminary findings of the recent research conducted that looked into the economic contribution of the ocean sports economy Cape Town, showed that this is a significant sector demonstrating huge growth potential and job creation capabilities. The full findings will be presented later this month.

”Cape Town is a world leader in boat building and a hub for big ideas and innovation. This city is committed to working with sectors that can stimulate job creation,” Vos said.