Timing, presentation help San Diego show grow

SAN DIEGO - Attendance and sales at the San Diego Boat Show made double-digit gains last year and organizers are hoping to push them even higher this year, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported in a story yesterday.

The four-day show will begin Jan. 6 at the San Diego Convention Center.

"As one of the first shows of the year, we draw a lot of interest throughout the industry," San Diego Boat Show president Jeff Hancock told the newspaper. "We're a solid, regional show with a strong representation of boats in our area."

That area stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Colorado River, and the show attracts a strong following from Arizona and Las Vegas, according to the Union-Tribune.

"Our audience has strong interest in ski and wake-board boats that you would find on the river as well as a stronger than average interest in sailing, which you would expect being in the middle of one of the country's top sailing markets," Hancock said. "We have more sail than most shows, which is only natural. But we have a stronger following for river boats than you'd probably expect for a show so close to the ocean."

One of the main attractions to the San Diego show are the nearly 100 in-the-water displays at the Marriott Marina adjacent to the Convention Center. The docks were almost jammed to capacity during the weekend days of last year's show, the newspaper reported.

"Forty to 50 percent of all new boat sales start at boat shows," Hancock said.

If there will be a shortage at next month's show, it will be in the area of the ultra-deluxe "high-end" yachts. Many boats normally exhibited have been sold - a vagary of a market that can rise and fall on the smallest of economic news, according to the Union-Tribune.

Some experts believe that the high fuel prices during the second half of this year caused many newcomers to delay their entry into the market at the lower range of the spectrum. But low interest rates continued the bull market for luxury yachts at the highest end of the market, the newspaper reported.

One potential problem: The show could fall on the same weekend as the San Diego Chargers first home playoff game since 1995.

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