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 French Nautical Industries Federation (Fédération des Industries Nautiques)

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 are spreading official messages through our various news feeds and means of communication and we have created a specific e-mail address: covid-19@fin.fr accessible to the whole sector, whether members or not, 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 reported difficulties in the field of boat hire, with a catastrophic drop in bookings, as in the entire tourism 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 We need to show responsibility and get closer to the authorities, as the prefectures can take more restrictive local measures than those agreed at national level" illustrates Fabien Métayer. "Concerning bookings, the notion of force majeure is not yet 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)

Boat production in slow motion

On the recreational boat production side, the activity has not been formally stopped as of 17 March 2020. However, major shipyards have announced the closure of their manufacturing plants, such as Fountaine-Pajot, Dufour and Catana. The Bénéteau Group is due to make its decision later today. "For those sites that continue, it is 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 borders of the Schengen area is limited to persons.

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.

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