Study values annual impact of Hampton recreational boaters at $55 million

  • Customs House Marina A survey of recreational boat owners who make Hampton their home port concludes that these boaters bring $55 million to the city and help create nearly 700 full-time jobs.

    Photo by Erin Seiling

    Customs House Marina

A survey of recreational boat owners who make Hampton their home port concludes that these boaters bring $55 million to the city and help create nearly 700 full-time jobs.

The study, conducted by Tom Murray and James Kirkley of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, and Doug Lipton of the University of Maryland, was commissioned by the city of Hampton. The authors surveyed both Hampton residents and non-residents who keep boats in the city to determine the economic impact of their boating-related activities.

The city plans to use the study as it considers whether to change its tax policies towards recreational boats. In 2002, the boat tax in Hampton was reduced from $1 per every $100 of assessed value to $0.000001, and boat taxes have not been collected by the city since then. The City Council will meet in mid-March to vote on whether to reinstate the boat tax.

"The number of boats docked at Hampton marinas has risen steadily from 1,313 in 2002 to 1,796 in 2007, the most recent year for which we estimated impact," says Murray. "Central to this growth was the relocation of non-resident watercraft to Hampton marinas corresponding with the change in the City's watercraft tax regime."

Other major findings of the study, emphasized in a report from the Boat Tax Subcommittee to the Hampton City Council Finance Committee, include:

   * The city gains $2.29 million in additional tax revenues from spending by recreational boaters, $1.31 million of which are derived from non-resident boaters.

   * Boats 33 feet and longer generate more than 70% of the spending and tax revenues from non-resident boaters. The Boat Tax Subcommittee writes, "There undoubtedly will be some relocation of boats if the boat tax rate is increased. This relocation will most likely be of the larger, higher value boats, which generate the majority of the economic impact."

The full report on the study can be downloaded at http://web.vims.edu/adv/econ/analyses.html