Leading marina man's call


Could regional boat shows replace the moribund London Boat Show? A leading marine trade businessman thinks so.

Andy Cunningham of Hamble Point Marina, said: ‘As gate proceeds plummet at the Excel show I remain of the opinion that the way forward is a main UK show in Southampton with very good, very well stocked regional shows.

‘Kip Marina does it brilliantly in Scotland, Suffolk Yacht Harbour do it well on the East Coast, the West country/Poole area is provided for and of course the team at Hamble Point are supporting us and the industry by presenting the Hamble Point New & Used Boat Show here in the centre of Yachting and Boating on the Hamble in May.

‘Which of course brings me to the Hamble Point Boat Show. Plans are afoot, details are drawn up, bookings are coming in and it’s looking good. Driving away from the Excel London show I was saddened to think that this rather dismal experience was a major show case for the industry, sport and lifestyle that I love. I believe it is not as welcoming a show as it once was. It does not inspire new and future boating enthusiasts to visit.

‘It was very clear that visitor numbers were much reduced, one could say that the exhibitors don’t care as long as they sold a goodly allocation but one has to ask there comes a time when the sums for National Boat Shows just cannot add up. They either need to pull exhibitors back to the show fast or face a financial black hole.

‘I understand that production boat builders can exhibit and deliver in time for the new season and thus there is a need and a reason for the show, If the organisers can bring the ‘pizzazz’ back then I am all for the London show.

‘But when one considers that 250,000 visitors went to the Paris Boat Show, as opposed to a claimed 88,000 to ExCeL, one has to wonder what can be done. It maybe too late? The Excel show is not a show, it is a rather ‘dry’ exhibition.

‘I believe that a combination of the statistics above and when the regional shows which have returned, perhaps because Excel does not deliver, grow to provide viable, friendly & welcoming industry/client interface alternatives, then the threat to London will reach a sad conclusion as the Excel show becomes just too expensive to run as the attendances drop just too low.