Africa’s Biggest Boating Bonanza!

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If ever there was a good barometer for the boating industry, the National Boat Show has to be it! This annual event allows everyone to gauge the industry’s current status quo, scope new boats, accessories and products and marvel at the tried and tested brands. Perfect weather and a high-quality display attracted capacity crowds over the three days, and as a result, visitors and exhibitors’ confidence were at an all-time high!

National Boat Show 2011Organisers of the 2011 National Boat Show registered another record-breaking visitor’s tally as 31 066 pairs of feet made their way through the doors of the Coca-Cola Dome in Johannesburg over the weekend of the 12 – 14th of August 2011. But did the market’s current economic woes produce a more serious shopper or just boat browsers looking for something to do on a sunny Saturday afternoon?

Arriving on the Thursday, the 12 000 sq m curved Dome was buzzing with exhibitors still engaging in some last-minute adjustments to their displays. While some were making minor mods others were working around the clock to get their boats into the Dome, and make their stands as attractive as possible.

General consensus at the show is that the industry has taken longer to recover from the crippling global and local economic slump. And with talks of a second recession on the cards, the 250 exhibitors were slightly nervous at the prospect of a disastrous show.

National Boat Show 2011 - Leisure Boating & Big Game Fishing MagazineBut you see, even when times are tough and money is tight, most exhibitors understand the importance of representing at the country’s biggest boating extravaganza. There might be fewer sales, expensive stand prices, and of course, the ever-annoying army of tyre-kickers to deal with. But you don’t want your competitors gaining one-upmanship over you with regards to “show presence” and remaining in the public’s eye.

The Friday, usually known as “Trade Day” was as dead as a Dodo! And exhibitor anxiety was palpable. “Is this going to be the tone for the rest of the weekend?” asked a nervous exhibitor. With a Wallabies vs. Springboks rugby match scheduled for the Saturday afternoon, exhibitors became even more worried, as they know that important rugby matches can clear out the Dome quicker than you can say “Jumping Jack Flash”.

However, did the all-important rugby clash influence visiting numbers and sales? Was there a better quality of visitor present at this year’s show? And which products really made an impact? Leisure Boating attended the show, and brings you a full report of all the thrills, spills, highs and lows of this year’s National Boat Show.


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