Toronto International Boat Show Releases Final Attendance and Exhibitor Feedback

Canadian Boat Shows (CBS), owner and producer of the Toronto International Boat Show, says many exhibitors experienced good sales results at this year's show, although some fell short of expectations. CBS claims poor weather conditions affected overall attendance.

CBS placed final attendance at 72,289, an 11 percent decrease compared to 2013. However, the boat show organizer says the 2013 event was the highest attended in the previous five years.

More than 550 manufacturers, dealers and marine suppliers sold out more than a million square feet of the Direct Energy Centre at Toronto's Exhibition Place from January 9 to 19.

Dave Dusome, Regional Sales Manager at Nautic Global Group said that sales of Rinker,
Hurricane, Aqua Patio, Godfrey, Sweet Water and San Pan were better than ever. "We're up 50 per cent from last year's show and we're very pleased. In my opinion, cruisers are on their way back and consumers are willing to pay for bigger units as long as the value is there.'

Sales were beyond the expectations of Les Dawe at CO2 Inflatables. He says that year-over-year revenues have doubled. "It was our best show in at least five years, and we've actually had more than a 100 per cent increase in units sold at this year's show.'

"We had very good quality attendees who came prepared to purchase,' says Anchor Yachts' Mike Green, dealer for Beneteau. "Part and parcel of the lower attendance fact is the simple reality that you get to talk to the people who are here longer – and that resulted in us selling three times as many boats this year.' Green added that he wouldn't be surprised to sell at least seven more boats coming out of the show in the next couple of months.

"Sure, the weather might have had something to do with attendance but the buyers were definitely here this year,' says Marc Duhamel, General Manager of Legend Boats. Our total number of units sold was down maybe 10 percent, but our dollar volume is well up over 10 percent. Pontoons were about even, small utility boats were down somewhat, but bigger boats were selling. We've had very strong sales since October right through to now and the Show did just what we expected.'

Bill Connor, owner of Stanley Boats, remarked on the number of Asian buyers interested in his welded aluminum marine products. "It's a very interesting market and we're seeing more interest from various ethnic groups as well as women – which is something we didn't really expect,' he explains. Connor also says sales and dollar volumes were up at Stanley this year and that there was an emphasis on the sale of larger boats.

Gary Potyok, District Sales Manager – Bombardier Recreational Products, says first-time buyers were also out in full force. "We introduced our new Sea Doo Spark here at the Show, and had all kinds of interest and very strong sales, especially from people who've never owned a boat before. That really added a positive spark to this year's boat show and I also believe it's adding to the very strong mood in the boating industry.'

Tracey Hart, Director of Marketing, Discover Boating Canada, reports that "more than 1,800 people visited the Discover Boating Centre at the show – a 22 percent increase over last year.' She added that a visitor to last year's Discover Boating Centre returned this year after purchasing a new boat and said ‘it was the best decision they ever made as a family' and thanked the staff at the Centre for helping them get started in boating.

The show also provided a series of guided tours conducted by Charley Zhou, who introduced Asian visitors to recreational boating. CBS says more than 200 people turned out for 25 tours over the course of the Show and four went home with a boat – one of whom purchased a 28-foot Boston Whaler from Mike Leblanc of Southwinds Marine. Leblanc says business was very brisk in the Whaler booth with sales up more than 25 per cent, making it the dealership's best show for sales in five years.

"Overall attendance was below expectations, despite the show delivering unprecedented advertising and publicity,' says Cynthia Hare, Show Manager. "While weather was a contributing factor to the decrease, we're also sensitive that some product categories did not have the results forecasted. We will be reviewing together with exhibitors in order to understand if changes need to be made in the future. We are thrilled that so many boat brands and accessories had increased sales, despite the attendance decline.'
CBS says the Toronto International Boat Show generates more than $354 million in economic impact to the region and remains one of the largest consumer boat shows in North America.

According to the National Marine Manufactures Association Canada's 2012 Economic Impact report, more than 4.3 million boats are owned by Canadians. The core industry of 4,400 marine companies generated revenues of $8.9 billion in 2012 and directly employed 40,000 people. The total economic contribution to Canada's GDP is estimated to be $5 billion and 67,000 total jobs.

Dates for the 2015 Toronto International Boat Show are January 10 to 18, 2015, with the event's Special Preview Night taking place on Friday, January 9.