The 54th annual Toronto International Boat Show, held from January 13 to 22 at the Direct Energy Centre, attracted 550 exhibitors and an overall attendance of 76,253 – according to organizers Canadian Boat Shows Inc.
The attendance figure represents a five percent increase over the previous year's gate.
The 10-day show saw the return of its Special Preview Night in support of Children's Charities and Canada's Boating Olympic Athletes, held this year on Friday January 13. Exhibitors were upbeat when the doors closed on January 22. "The results are consistent across most product segments of the industry,' said Show Manager Cynthia Hare in a statement. "Exhibitor feedback was overwhelmingly positive,' Hare adds. "With strong features and special event areas, and a strategic marketing emphasis on retail, exhibitors are very happy with the quality and quantity of consumers at this year's show. Canada's boating industry is off to a great start in 2012!'
Dockside Group President Bob Spencer called the 2012 Toronto show his best ever, with record sales for Bennington poontoons. "We'll sell close to 50 boats to a wide cross-section of people who came here ready to buy,' said Spencer.
"If we had a good show last year – and we did – we had a great show this year,' echoed Marc Duhamel, General Manager of Legend Boats. Duhamel says the 2012 Toronto Boat Show is the second best Legend has experienced in more than 25 years, noting he observed a more positive and confident consumer this year.
"We've found that consumers are definitely more educated and did their homework before they came to the show,' agreed Rhonda Brown, owner of Kawartha Boat Depot. "They know what they want, so it makes the sales process more efficient,' adds Brown, a 26-year Toronto Boat Show exhibitor. "This is definitely one of the best shows we've ever had.'
One great thing about the Toronto Boat Show is the variety of people it brings in – from cottagers to commercial operators, says Brian Higgins, International and Custom Sales for Stanley Boats, which sold everything it brought to the show.
"We had loftier goals this year, for sure, and we're very close to achieving them,' said Jason Crate, VP and Comptroller for Crate's Lake Country Boats.
Campion Boats' Brock Elliott is also pleased with sales at the Toronto show. "We've sold a broad cross-selection of boats and hit targets set coming into the show.'
"There's been considerable pent-up demand for our products as people determined how to deal with the economy over the last couple of years, and I think we're seeing new sales now as a result,' says Rai Mannu, eastern Ontario District Sales Manager for Yamaha Motor Canada. "It also seems that more families have decided that going away on a holiday every couple of years isn't nearly as much fun as having a boat that you can own for life.'
Owner of The Boat Warehouse, Dave Mayhew concludes that they, too, had a banner year: way up over last year – perhaps as high as 25 percent. "I was particularly pleased with the mid-week crowds this year,' says Mayhew, "as on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we sold boats!'
Dates for the 2013 Toronto International Boat Show are January 12 to 20 inclusive, with the Special Preview Night scheduled for Friday January 11.