La. ranks high nationally in boat sales

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Louisiana is ranked as the fifth-best state in the country for recreational boating sales, according to figures recently released by the U.S. Recreational Boating Industry.

Louisiana’s retail sales of powerboats, motors, trailers and accessories in 2011 was $447 million, just $1 million behind fourth-place New York, but well behind national leader Florida, which sold $1.5 billion worth of boats.

As part of the information released from the organization, Discover Boating included hot spots at each of the 10 states. For Louisiana, the site was Caddo Lake, a favorite of northwest Louisiana clubs and fishing trails.

“Louisiana’s largest natural freshwater lake is made up of 26,000 acres covering the Texas and Louisiana border,” the release said. “The Louisiana side offers outdoor enthusiasts a range of boat options to explore its 70 species of fish, interconnected waterways, bayous, sloughs, channels, islands and abundant wildlife.”

The Memorial Day weekend typically kicks off the serious boating season, although the first day of summer doesn’t come until June 20. A National Marine Manufacturers Association report, released last week, indicates that expenditures on boat-related items are on the upswing nationally.

According to the NMMA report, retail sales in 2011 for recreational boats, accessories and marine services increased 6 percent to $32.3 billion, new power and sail boat retail sales increased 0.8 percent to $214,405 while boating participation increased 10 percent to 83 million. It was the first increase for the recreational boating industry since 2006, while the participation jump is the largest proportion of adults (34.8 percent) since 1997, when 35.8 percent participated.

“The top 10 boating states combined generated an estimated $5.7 billion in retail sales last year— that’s a lot of boating, so we wanted to pinpoint a favorite destination in each state as America’s 83 million boaters prepare to hit the water this summer,” said Carl Blackwell, Chicago boater and Discover Boating president in a release.

Here are the top 10 boating states and a hot spot:

1. Florida ($1.5 billion), Hot Spot: Sarasota; 2. Texas ($982 million), Hot Spot: Corpus Christi; 3. Michigan ($454 million), Hot Spot: Mackinac Island; 4. New York ($448 million), Hot Spot: Lake Champlain; 5. Louisiana ($447 million), Hot Spot: Caddo Lake; 6. Minnesota ($412 million), Hot Spot: Leech Lake; 7. North Carolina ($403 million), Hot Spot: Elizabeth City; 8. Delaware ($385 million), Hot Spot: Indian River; 9. Wisconsin ($292 million), Hot Spot: Lake Geneva; 10. Alabama ($333 million), Hot Spot: Lake Martin.

For more information on how to get started in boating, visit

Connect with Jimmy Watson on Twitter at @JimmyWatson6.

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