The South African government plans to invest more than R250-million (£14-million) in a new boatbuilding park in Durban, President Jacob Zuma has announced.

The park would be the biggest boatbuilding facility in the country, capable of producing up to 150 boats annually, mainly for the export market.

Zuma made the announcement earlier this month at a function in Durban where he outlined progress with a national job creation programme aimed partly at bolstering the marine economy. In his speech he highlighted the importance of the boatbuilding sector in fostering economic growth: “The park is planned to be a world-class space for the production and repair of leisure and commercial boats,” Zuma said. “The boatbuilding sector has long been recognised in our strategic plans as a major opportunity to stimulate new investment, exports and job creation.”

The park would be situated in the Bayhead area of the Port of Durban and would include a Marine Skills Development Centre, Zuma said.

“It will also accommodate emerging and Black-owned boatbuilding companies and key suppliers,” he added.

The park could represent a welcome expansion of South Africa's leisure boat production capacity, which is currently centred in Cape Town. It also signals government commitment to the boatbuilding sector at a time of stiff economic headwinds and a volatile currency.

However the sector looks set to benefit from an expected surge in demand for new cruising catamarans in the wake of Hurricane Irma which devastated charter fleets in the Caribbean.