The Tullet Prebon London International Boat Show has seen, we are told, a seven per cent visitor increase over the figures for 2010 with nearly 110 thousand attendees. This figure was still two per cent below that of 2009 and begs the question have event organisers National Boat Shows (NBS) done enough to secure the show in yachting’s calendar of important events.
This year they tried a different format in an enlarged venue and tied the event together with the Outdoors Show and London Bike Show, but even then the total combined attendance only reached 140,164.
NBS says that the rejuvenation of the show helped to broaden its appeal and attract a more diverse range of visitors with the new layout including a Water Sport Action Pool, a new Boardwalk Area and a Used Boats Marina.
Regular attendees we spoke to were disappointed claiming that the show is loosing its original attraction. One said, “Sir Max Aitken originally launched the after Christmas show so that Fathers and sons went to look at boats while Mothers and daughters visited the London Department Store Sales before they all joined together as a family to see Pantomime in London’s West End.” He mourned the loss of the old setup adding, “All the attractions were together and this was spoiled when the Boat Show moved to a shed in the East End suburbs of London.”
Another told us “Earls Court was tacky yes, but with its fake seagull sounds and stylised village around a pond with boats afloat, it was a real show. When the music started and the fashion show began everyone stopped to look interested in cloths or not. That was showtime and this is nothing more than an exhibition of boats.”
One visitor who has travelled from the north of the country for every London and Southampton show told us that this was his last ever London show. Southampton is great but I think I will give Liverpool a chance next time. London has lost its way.”
Yet others heaped praise on the new idea of the used boat marina. According to NBS, more than 50 per cent of the used boats on display in the marina were sold at the show, with sea trials booked for the remaining craft.
Chris Cleverly, managing director at Princess Motor Yacht Sales, said “It’s well reported that the industry is experiencing challenging times, but this show has certainly given us a great sales and promotional platform.”
He reported having sold several boats to new, walk up, never-seen-before visitors adding “Our new 32 metre superyacht inside the hall added an extra dimension to our presence.”