St. Petersburg Boat Show and Strictly Sail attendance up

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Following the addition of sailboats for the first time, the St. Petersburg Boat Show & Strictly Sail, which ran Dec. 4-7 at the Mahaffey Theater Yacht Basin, experienced a 30-percent increase in attendance, compared to the 2007 St. Petersburg Boat Show, organizers reported in a statement today from Sail America.

In June 2008, show producer Show Management and Sail America, the trade association for the U.S. sailing industry, merged the former St. Petersburg Boat Show and the Strictly Sail St. Pete show to create the all-new "super show."

"Our new joint show has been an outstanding success, bringing in record-breaking gate attendance as well as quality buyers for sail, power and booth exhibitors," said Dane Graziano, Show Management senior vice president and chief operating officer. "We believe this wonderful show is destined to grow larger and even more successful in 2009."

Sail America Executive Director Jonathan Banks said, "We were really pleased with the results of this joint venture and the positive feedback we have received from visitors and exhibitors. The combined show attracted more quality sailboat buyers than we've seen in previous shows. There was a high level of interest in Discover Sailing and Sail America's 70 educational and entertaining boating seminars were well-received."

The four-day boating festival benefitted from sunny weather, allowing attendees to climb aboard more than 500 boats on floating docks and land displays, in addition to walking a newly expanded and air-conditioned Accessories Tent with 275 booths.

Dealers share positive reports

Despite a sluggish economy, dealers reported interest and leads, and several generated sales, according to organizers. Exhibitors praised the new show layout, including the new floating docks for sailboats, they stated.

Ed Massey of Massey Yacht Sales in Palmetto, Fla., said, "The new joint effort St. Pete Boat Show and Strictly Sail was a tremendous step in the right direction. The traffic was the best I've seen at a St. Pete show in many years. The attendees were understandably negative about purchasing a yacht given the economy. However, boats were sold, and there were many new leads for the dealers. The sailboat set-up was terrific and will grow nicely in the next few years. I predict that the St. Pete show will easily become the strongest sailboat show in the Southeast U.S."

"The traffic has been double or triple what we've seen at the St. Pete show in the last three or four years, and the quality of the traffic was really good," said Ted Norris, Hunter Marine's market development manager for the Southeast and Caribbean.

Island Packet's Bill Bolin brought a fleet of sailboats to the show, and said the added traffic proved to be a real boon to all exhibitors. "The sailboat and sail-related exhibitors saw a big jump in traffic," he noted. "There were lots of new folks to talk with this year. The venue, the food vendors, and overall ambience of the larger show improved the visitor experience over anything we have had in this market for the past 15 years."

The St. Petersburg Boat Show and Strictly Sail show is scheduled to run in 2009 from Thursday, Dec. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 6 at the same Mahaffey Theater Yacht Basin and Albert Whitted Park location, according to organizers.

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