New England show reports sold-out exhibitor space

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Exhibitor space at the Progressive Insurance New England Boat Show is sold out for the first time in five years.

Show manager Joe O’Neal told the Boston Business Journal that 401 exhibitors lined up for space at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, an 8 percent increase from the 372 who participated last year. The space sold out about a month prior to the show, which opened Feb. 16 and continues through Sunday.

O’Neal expects attendance to increase from 43,700 last year to between 45,000 and 47,000 this year.

During the last few years, O'Neal said, the New England Boat Show has broadened its audience well beyond its core market of Greater Boston and Cape Cod to attract exhibitors from Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

The industry has been seeing steady increases in sales since 2010, and he expects another gain in 2013. To some extent, the psychological benefit of improving real estate values has helped encourage homeowners to spend in other areas, he said.

"There's a direct link to the health of the real estate market [with] the sale of boats," O'Neal told the paper.

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Check next Monday’s Trade Only Today for associate editor Reagan Haynes’ coverage of the New England Boat Show.