Providence show reports attendance boost

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Providence Boat Show organizers say that despite the 20th anniversary show running for three days rather than four, attendance rose 17 percent from the previous year. The show floor at the Rhode Island Convention Center was busy from the 10 a.m. start on Jan. 18 and held steady through the weekend.

As at the New York Boat Show held two weeks earlier, there was a clear sense that attendees are in more of a buying mood than they have been in some time.

"My sales team not only sold three boats at the show, but we had high-quality conversations that we believe will result in sales down the road,” said Al Elson, president of Striper Marina, an authorized Glacier Bay Catamaran, Pursuit and Sailfish dealer in Barrington, R.I. “It was refreshing to see such an engaged crowd."

Dozens of dealers and marinas reported boats sold during the show, according to organizers at the Newport Exhibition Group.

“Given the record attendance, strong boat sales and extremely powerful feedback from exhibitors, we can definitively say the 2013 Providence Boat Show was a rousing success,” said Tom Delotto, director of the group. “As the kickoff show for New England and one of the first shows of the year, we hope this indicates a strong year throughout our market and a great platform to build upon for 2014.”

Ninety minutes before the show opened, the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association held its fifth annual Industry Roundtable, featuring several speakers across the spectrum of the industry discussing key issues facing the market.

In the recent presidential election, 88 percent of voters for Republican candidate Mitt Romney were white and he lost to President Obama with 48 percent of the total vote.

“Republicans have to grasp the reality that this country is changing,” NMMA legislative director Jim Currie said. “And we in the industry have to grasp that same reality.”

The show’s charitable partner, the Rhode Island SPCA. received a portion of Sunday’s ticket sales, a monetary donation by Hunt Yachts, as well as the proceeds from the raffling of a Walker Bay inflatable donated by Maritime Solutions of Portsmouth, R.I.

“We are so thankful to the Providence Boat Show for choosing us as their charitable partner,” said Jim McGee, director of development, Rhode Island Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals. “Not only will the generous donations help us with our mission, we were also able to raise awareness for our cause through our discussions with the people who attended the show.”

Look for more coverage of the shows in Providence and Hartford, Conn., in the March issue of Soundings Trade Only.

— Rich Armstrong

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