Importance of industry expressed at Italian show

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Remarks by Italian government and marine industry officials at the start of the Genoa International Boat Show this week appeared designed to encourage an industry that has been showing signs of recovery from the global financial crisis.

Analysts predict that marine sales will rise 5.5 percent in Italy this year after a decline in which volume dropped from 6.4 billion euros ($8.1 billion) in 2008 to 2.4 billion ($3.04 billion) in 2013, ANSA reported.

The show opened Wednesday and will continue through Monday on the Italian Riviera. The venue boasts nearly 2 million square feet of exhibit space, more than half of it in-water, and draws more than 1,000 vessels, another 760 exhibitors, more than 100 product introductions and more than 100,000 visitors.

"Boating must continue to be one of our sectors of excellence and the government will help as well," Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said at the opening. "This sector is a resource and pleasure-boat owners are not to be called tax evaders."

"You have restored hope to our associates," said Massimo Perotti, president of UCINA, Italy's professional yachting industry association. He cited the fact that the government lowered value-added taxes on marina transit duties as one of the measures that have given the sector a breather.

Junior Industry Minister Carlo Calenda was critical of the way the boat show was being run.

"The government has given the salon 1.8 million euros, and we would have no problem reaching 3 million next year," Calenda said. "But the sector needs a plan written by industry, for industry. If there's a plan, the government will be there. Otherwise we'd rather spend money helping firms participate in other boat shows around the world."

“In the past, the maritime sector was traveling in full sail, while now it is experiencing a deep crisis,” said Claudio Burlando, president of Regione Liguria, the Italian coastal region of which Genoa is the capital, according to a press release from show organizers. “It is just a phase. It can happen. It is of major importance that the boat show is still here, boasting of the strong support of the professionals. It is a symbol of endurance, resistance and continuity. The destiny of the sector, like the destiny of Italy, is not inescapable. A hard work is necessary for the recovery.”