SEATTLE — The 69th annual Seattle Boat Show wrapped up on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 with an increase in attendance of 1.4 percent over 2015. The nine-day event attracted visitors from 37 states, three Canadian provinces, one Canadian territory and from as far away as Australia, Great Britain and China. Attendance was 52,427 compared to 51,684 last year.
“We were very pleased to see an increase in attendance,” said George Harris, president/CEO, Northwest Marine Trade Association. “Attendees showed up with enthusiasm, ready to shop, plan and prepare for every type of boating in the Northwest, and the reports from our exhibitors are some of the most positive we’ve seen in years.”
Exhibitors across the board were extremely positive about the quantity and quality and positive attitude of show attendees.
“It was our best Seattle Boat Show ever in terms of unit sales. We were up 27 percent in units over last year and 22 percent in dollar volume. We couldn’t be more pleased. Product innovation played a big part. Buyers were seeing enough new features and innovations this year that helped them substantiate the value,” said James Baker, vice president, Seattle Boat Company, dealer for Cobalt and Malibu boats and a Boating Industry Top 100 dealer.
“We ended up with a record show. We had a double-digit increase over last year. There seemed to be more first time boaters at the show that were interested in getting out on the water and enjoying all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. We were busy the whole entire show. In fact, I never had a chance to leave my booth long enough to check out the rest of the displays!” said Jeff Messmer, vice president, Ranger Tugs/ Cutwater Boats.
“We were excited to see the entry level buyer back, something we hadn’t seen much of since before the recession. But many categories were strong. It appears there are a lot of people with a renewed interest in boating. We ended the show up 50 percent in unit sales and 30 percent in dollar volume,” said Kevin Roggenbuck, CEO, Lake Union Sea Ray, a Boating Industry Top 100 dealer.
“We had a steady stream of qualified prospects throughout the nine days of the show. There wasn’t a single day we were twiddling our thumbs! We’ve never been so busy post-show. It was a huge success for us,” said Dan Krier, vice president, Marine Servicecenter, dealer for Jeanneau, Lagoon, Island Packet and Blue Jacket yachts.
Other encouraging signs for the Northwest recreational boating industry are the recently released numbers for new boat sales in Washington State. According to UW Sea Grant, which compiles sales data from the Washington State Department of Licensing, new vessel sales in January 2016 were the best in current dollars (not adjusted for inflation) since January 2007, before the recession began, and the best since January 2008 in units sold.