The Mexican economy grew by 1.4% in 2013 and 2.1% in 2014, but those were much lower rates than previously expected. The official government forecast for GDP growth is 3.2% this year, but economists expect it to be closer to 2.4%.

While that rate is faster the average of 0.5% for the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean, it is still a disappointment for a president who promised to kick-start Mexico’s stagnant economy and restore purchasing power to its large middle class. Fighting Narco-related political scandals, and as yet unable to pass labour law reforms that were central to his campaign platform, Peña Nieto is also stymied by falling global oil prices.

Even with the uncertain economy, Mexico’s boating industry has reported growth in the past five years. Since the country has few recreational boatbuilders, the boating market relies mostly on US and European imports. There are no concrete numbers for pleasure boats, but Mexico’s secretary of Infrastructure and Transportation says 167,805 boats are registered, with 26%, or about 42,000, for leisure and sport-fishing.

A second analyst contacted by IBI puts the number of registered pleasure boats closer to 33,000. The domestic market for new and used- boat sales remains small at about 300 units last year, according to the analyst. The report also estimates there are about 10,000 wet slips in the country, spread across 12 federal marinas and 30 private facilities.

The country does have strong potential for boating growth, according to a US Department of Commerce report released in September. Estimating that 7.2m Mexicans, or about 5% of the population, have purchasing power for high-end goods, the report says that Mexico maintains 55% of the market for luxury goods in Latin America. That market has grown at 10% for the last two years.

On paper, Mexico could be the ideal candidate for a prosperous boating industry. It has thousands of miles of coastline on both the Atlantic and Pacific, dozens of inland lakes, upscale resorts like Cancun and Los Cabos that are now boating destinations, and a relatively affluent middle class.

Note: This is an excerpt of the latest report on the Mexican market that appeared in the October issue of IBI magazine. IBI Plus subscribers can download the full report from IBI Plus website.