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Study assesses dollar impact of boaters on local economy

Hampton popular with boaters

Hampton popular with boaters:  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.

"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, also point out that the city gains $2.29 million in additional tax revenues from spending by recreational boaters. The report also noted that boats 33 feet and longer generate more than 70% of the spending and tax revenues from non-resident boaters.   i