Toronto show reports solid turnout

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Attendance at the 2011 Toronto International Boat Show was 72,580, down 3 percent from 2010, organizers said.

However, exhibitors reported a strong show, with consumers who came out prepared to purchase. The show was held Jan. 8-16.

"The economy is much stronger and the smart buyers are buying up - we sold more bigger boats this year than normal," said John Dunn, of Walker's Point Marina in Gravenhurst, Ontario, in a statement. "This show is a bellwether, so it's definitely setting the right trend."

Another trend emerging from this year's show is that of the aging baby boomer who is seeking greater comfort and convenience and is willing to spend the dollars necessary to get a quality product.

Rick Hickson, of R&J Machine in Lakefield, Ontario, said he's convinced he's benefiting from the trend. "People today aren't afraid to spend money to get high quality. They buy what lasts. As our customers get older, they want convenience and dependability," he said.

Show director Linda Waddell described the results as consistent across most product segments of the industry.

"We were very pleased that exhibitors had such a strong show," she said. "The feedback we received was the most positive in the last five to seven years, a very good sign for the industry's future."

Dates for the 2012 show are Jan. 14-22, with the return of preview night Jan. 13.

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