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‘A Phenomenal Success’

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The Southampton International Boat Show closed last week with organizers and exhibitors affirming it was a success.

Show presenter British Marine said more than 88,000 visitors attended the show during its 10-day run. That’s down 14 percent from 2019 but still considered an achievement following last year’s cancellation and with the pandemic still an issue.

“It’s fair to say that the event delivered way beyond anything we could have hoped for, British Marine president Ian Cooke told Trade Only Today. “I am enormously proud of the event that the show team delivered in such challenging circumstances. Planning has already begun for 2022.”

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More than 30 yachts made world, U.K. or show debuts at the event.

Covid safety precautions included widened walkways, a larger show footprint and dividing the event into five zones: Watersports, Classic and Dayboat, Dinghy, On the Water and Festival Green. Visitors were required to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test.

“Additional Covid-19 measures were introduced at the show to help keep everyone safe,” Cooke said in a statement. “The majority of visitors seemed happy to have these extra measures.”

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Organizers reported that Try-A-Boat and Try-A-Boat+, which aim to engage beginners and those returning boating, had more than 13,760 participants, a 25 percent increase compared with the 2019 show.

“We’ve put even more emphasis into appealing to visitors of all backgrounds and interests, ages and ability than ever before,” said British Marine CEO Lesley Robinson.

“This year’s show has been a resounding success with a fabulous atmosphere, as exhibitors and visitors alike have been enjoying meeting face-to-face. The feedback we’ve had from brands across the industry has been phenomenal, indicating very strong sales.”

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There was agreement among exhibitors that the show was successful. “We’ve sold over 100 electric outboard motors and 70 inflatable kayaks,” said Ian Thomson of Nestaway Boats. “It’s the best boat show in [our] history, and we’re delighted with the new layout.”

Gibbs Quay Boat Sales director Don Bissessar echoed that sentiment. “This is the 34th year we’ve been here, and as far as I can recall, this year, surprisingly, has been the best show,” he says. “Approximately 30 percent of visitors have been new to boating, 30 percent have been existing customers looking to upgrade, 30 percent were looking for the future, and [the rest] were just enjoying the show and looking at yachts

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