East Anglian boat shows could benefit from London cancellation

The East Anglian boating community is hoping the demise of one of the country’s biggest boat shows could provide fair winds for local events.

Organisers of the London Boat Show have confirmed the cancellation of its 2019 show at Excel London after independent research among two thirds of exhibitors showed there was “insufficient support from a large proportion of the marine industry” for its current format, duration and location.

The research also showed a year-on-year decline in customer satisfaction at the show.

Despite being rocked by the announcement, local boating firms say it could be an opportunity for more local shows to propel themselves into the public eye.

The past month has seen the Horning Boat Show, which saw exhibitors and visitors basking in the Bank Holiday sun, and the second Brundall Boat Show take place, while another boat show is planned at Haven Marina in Ipswich on June 2 and 3.

Adam Cox, managing director of new and used boat sales firm Burton Waters in Ipswich, said he was “disappointed” at the loss of the London Boat Show, which allowed the company to exhibit its four brands of boats to a wider audience.

“Now we will perhaps have to work a bit differently and get more local shows with other dealers in the area to draw people in locally,” says Adam.

“We are trying to keep people on the east coast, to show them how the boats work in the areas where we are based.”

Mr Cox said he would encourage Burton Water customers to make the journey to the Dusseldorf International Boat Show, one of the world’s most influential industry shows, where the company would continue to exhibit.

James Fraser is director of Norfolk Yacht Agency, one of the three companies which banded together to start the Brundall Boat Show last year.

He believes small local shows may be the way forward, with this year’s Brundall event on May 19 going “phenomenally well” following a successful show at Horning.

He says: “Even with the Royal wedding the attendance [at Brundall] was great, feedback from clients was very positive and there is a great want for it.”

But he did express sadness at the loss of the London Boat Show. “As an east coast business that was the show where nine times out of 10 we would make a sale.”

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