When boot Düsseldorf closed Jan. 31, the water sports festival billed as the world’s largest had attracted nearly a quarter of a million visitors, organizers say.
There was an air of excitement in all 17 exhibition halls, and the 1,800 exhibitors reported that the public was “extremely keen to buy,” show officials say.
A total of 247,000 visitors from 52 countries turned out — up 2.8 percent from 2015. The exhibits included 1,800 boats and yachts, featuring the latest in water sports vessels such as wakeboarding and skimboarding boats. Other well represented activities included kitesurfing, diving, fishing, canoeing and cruising, for what organizers called a “comprehensive picture of the industry.”
Water sports enthusiasts were extremely impressed, say show officials, with “97.5 percent giving boot Düsseldorf top marks.”
The enthusiasm of the crowds delighted trade fair organizers, headed by managing director Werner Matthias Dornscheidt.
“It is so much fun starting the trade fair year with boot,” says Dornscheidt. “Anyone who went around the halls saw exhibitors with cheerful faces and great visitors, with exactly the right blend of trade representatives and private water sports enthusiasts. Boot 2016 was a professional party that whetted everyone’s appetite for water activities in gloomy January.”
Sailing and sailing boats are traditionally the most popular segment of boot. They are followed in second place by powerboats, which are in turn followed by diving equipment and accessories.
“Another very impressive feature is the strong interest in luxury yachts, which shows that we here in Düsseldorf have exactly the right clientele for this high-price segment,” says boot director Goetz-Ulf Jungmichel. The Cruise Pavilion, which had a range of cruise options that could be booked directly, was popular, too, organizers say.
Young visitors to the trade fair were attracted to the Beach World feature, which included a pool on which people could try wakeboarding, skimboarding and kitesurfing. Officials say visitors were very interested in water tourism, chartering and fishing, as well.
“And our fans are loyal to us,” says Jungmichel.
It was the 47th edition of boot. Many water sports enthusiasts first experienced the trade fair when they were children and are passing their passion on to the next generation, organizers say.
Many of the exhibitors complimented the trade fair on the quality of the professional visitors. Specialists from the boating industry, the tourism industry and the service sector, in particular, took advantage of boot 2016 to hold discussions and place orders with corporate exhibitors.
More than 50,000 visitors came from European countries outside Germany and from overseas. For Jungmichel, this is a clear indication of the global position boot Düsseldorf holds. “We cover the entire maritime community every year,” he says. “Since the exhibitors bring both boats and equipment to our event, visitors are in a position to obtain a realistic insight into everything that is available.”
The successful year the water sports industry enjoyed in 2015 had a definite impact on the trade fair this year. Private water sports enthusiasts and trade visitors proved eager to buy, says Jürgen Tracht, director of the German Association of the Water Sports Industry.
“We are very satisfied,” Tracht says. “Boot gave our industry major additional momentum, which will be producing positive results in the course of the year. This is clear confirmation of the forecasts we made before the event. We are expecting the uptrend in the water sports industry to continue in the future, as well. Almost 90 percent of the companies anticipate that the market will be expanding even more in the coming two to three years. The maritime economy is demonstrating impressive stability, with single-digit growth rates in practically all market sectors.”
This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue.