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Crowds, record exhibitors opening highlights at 30th METS

By Craig Ritchie

The 30th annual METS – the world’s largest marine equipment trade show – opened Tuesday at the massive Amsterdam RAI convention complex to crowded exhibit halls and a record number of exhibitors.

Long lines at the entry doors suggest the opening day attendance appeared to be at least on track with the 8,133 people who attended opening day in 2016.

Show visitors were still lined up to receive badges well into the afternoon, suggesting the show could be on track for another year of record opening day attendance.

Exhibitors in the USA pavilion in Hall 12 kicked the show off with a patriotic note, with U.S. Superyacht Association President Kitty McGowan once again singing the national anthem a cappella in front of the NMMA booth.

McGowan’s performance earned an enthusiastic round of applause from assembled exhibitors. Following the performance of the anthem, a delegation from the U.S. Embassy led by U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission for The Netherlands, Mr. Shawn Crowley, joined NMMA President Thom Dammrich in cutting the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the USA pavilion.

“We’re thankful to our partners at the U.S. Department of Commerce for inviting the Deputy Chief of Mission to come and inaugurate our Pavilion,” said Julie Balzano, NMMA’s Senior Director - Export Development. “It helps enhance the presence of the USA Pavilion here at METS.”

A total of 1,526 companies from over 50 different countries are exhibiting at this year’s METS, easily surpassing the previous record 1,471 exhibitors who displayed last year.

This marks the fourth consecutive year that METS has set a new record for exhibitor numbers. Exhibitor booths fill nine halls of the enormous Amsterdam RAI convention complex, and include no less than 19 separate country pavilions.

“We’ve seen more customers at the booth earlier in the day than we’ve seen in several years,” observed Janie Vallery, exhibiting with Stuart, Florida-based Armstrong Nautical. “Located where we are in the building, it normally takes time for show visitors to trickle through, and we don’t see big crowds till 30 to 45 minutes after the show opens. Today, barely 15 minutes after the doors opened we had customers standing around waiting. So we’re off to a good start. We’re here to deal with our existing distributors, and obviously to speak with new prospects and build our network.”

The 30th METS runs through Thursday at the Amsterdam RAI.

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