2004 boat sales up 15 percent in Washington state

SEATTLE -- The total value of new and used boats sold in Washington state during 2004 was $693 million, a 15-percent increase from 2003, the Northwest Marine Trade Association reported in a release yesterday.

An 18-percent increase in fourth-quarter sales helped propel the rise, according to veteran marine researcher Bob Goodwin, working with the University Washington Sea Grant Program.

New boat sales for calendar year 2004 in Washington state were up 12 percent over 2003, There were 55,700 boats sold in Washington state last year.

"These numbers echo the fact that our economy has turned around," NMTA President Michael Campbell said. "Heading into 2005, interest rates remain low, our industry is strong and Northwest residents are taking to the water year-round - just some of the reasons we're expecting enthusiastic crowds at this year's [Seattle Boat] show."

The Seattle Boat Show, including the Lake Union Boats Afloat Show, begins today with more than 1,000 boats, 500 exhibitors and 130 presentations to be featured at Qwest Field Event Center.

Some 190 boats will also be on display in their natural habitat at Chandler's Cove on Lake Union.

This year's show will be the biggest ever in the event's history, according to organizers, and will run through Jan. 23.

"The boat show's growing size and popularity mirrors the continued rise in recreational boat sales throughout in the Northwest," Campbell said. "The ongoing collaboration of the NYBA and NMTA means greater selection, convenience and enjoyment."

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