The South African boat building industry has gained international credibility, regularly winning international awards and building a strong reputation among international boat designers and consumers. A notable success is that South Africa has grown to become the world’s second largest producer of recreational catamarans, after France. This international acclaim is not only for the final produced watercraft (including other vessels) but additionally for components such as sails and masts. Additionally, South African companies have developed capacity in niche segments in commercial and public sector markets, for example, fire-fighting boats and crew transport boats for the oil and gas industry (Kaiser Associates, 2012).
The Western Cape is the largest marine manufacturing centre within South Africa, generating over R1 billion in 2014 in export revenue (Quantec, 2015), and houses approximately 70% of boat builders.
The main commercial centres for marine manufacturing within the Western Cape include Cape Town and small towns such as St. Helena Bay, Saldanha Bay, Atlantis, Kommetjie, Simon’s Town, Swellendam, George, and Knysna.
The South African Boat Builders Export Council (SABBEX) is focused on the support of exports. The council is a major contributor to establishing South Africa as a globally competitive boatbuilding export country, with sustainable export growth within the Department of Trade and Industry’s framework.