Covid-19 : How does the French nautical industry deal with the health crisis and its impacts?

Bénéteau Factory © Bénéteau

The health crisis linked to Covid-19 affects the whole of French and international society. The French Nautical Industries Federation informs us of the feedback from the yachting industry on its impact and the initial actions put in place to deal with it.

A device dedicated to Covid 19 at the Federation of Nautical Industries

The health crisis and the restrictive measures imposed on individuals and businesses will have an impact on the entire economy, including the nautical sector, particularly as we prepare for the 2020 season. "Many questions are coming our way, often legitimate ones from our members. We have already held several meetings with certain professions to assess the situation. On the other hand, we disseminate official messages through our various news feeds and means of communication and we have created a specific e-mail address: accessible to the whole sector, whether or not they are members, in order to raise questions," explains Fabien Métayer, general delegate of the Fédération des Industries Nautiques.

Fabien Métayer, General Delegate of the Fédération des Industries Nautiques (French Nautical Industries Federation)

Boat rentals and nautical services already heavily impacted

Professionals have already pointed out the difficulties in the field of boat hire, with a catastrophic drop in bookings, as for the whole tourist sector. Practical questions also arise. "How do you deal with a crew returning from a cruise, when the marinas are supposed to be closed," a charter company from overseas asked us? It is necessary to show responsibility and to get closer to the authorities, as the prefectures can take more restrictive local measures than those agreed at national level" illustrates Fabien Métayer. "Concerning reservations, the notion of force majeure has not yet been announced outside of public procurement. We'll have to wait for Bercy's clarification."

It should be noted that the majority of captaincies are currently closed as boating is not an "essential activity".

Yacht charter in the Caribbean is also affected (Photo DR:Sunsail)

Idling boat production

On the recreational boat production side, the activity has not been formally stopped as of March 17, 2020. However, major shipyards have announced the closure of their manufacturing plants, such as Fountaine-Pajot, Dufour and Catana. The Bénéteau Group was due to make its decision within the day. "For the shipyards that are continuing, it's a question of respecting the organizational instructions to maintain the distance between employees, the wearing of masks..." reminds Mr Métayer.

As far as exports are concerned, it can continue to this day, as the closure of the Schengen area borders is limited to people.

If production conditions are affected, it is still too early to measure the possible impact on orders and possible cancellations by boaters facing economic difficulties.