A cold weather front that consumed the Lower Mainland during the past week and brought a rare snowfall to the downtown core on Sunday, didn’t deter boating enthusiasts from attending the Vancouver International Boat Show this year.
Western Canada’s largest boat show’s attendance numbers at both the indoor show at BC Place and the Floating Show at Granville Island are reported at 28,764 for the 2019 show, compared to 28,739 the previous year.
“Despite unprecedented winds, weekend snowfall and challenging road conditions, the crowd turnout was favorable, and BC’s recreational marine dealers and service providers are cautiously optimistic in advance of the fast approaching boating season,” said Show Manager Eric Nicholl. “By most accounts, exhibitors were greeted by serious buyers, and initial feedback from key markets throughout the Province suggests this year will be relatively stable.”
Snowfall on the Sunday forced the closure of the Floating Show mid-afternoon, and likely contributed to reduced attendance numbers comparable to previous Sunday counts; this year’s Sunday attendance was down 15% compared to 2018, while attendance on the Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday were all up comparative to last year.
On the Saturday, sustained Arctic outflow winds in Howe Sound damaged docks and boats in West Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay, with nearly a dozen boats breaking loose from Sewell's marina and washing ashore. BC Ferries sailings were cancelled for a large part of the day making it a challenge for Island-based residents to make their trip to the show.
People travelling from the Interior regions of the BC, specifically from the Okanagan / Kamloops / Merrit area were faced with treacherous driving conditions as mountain passes were under heavy snowfall warnings and advisories.
Weather was a significant factor on overall attendance as nearly 1,000 pre-purchased electronic tickets were not redeemed.
Guests in attendance expressed interest in a wide range of products, including canoes/kayaks/paddleboards, bowriders and fishing boats, ski & wakeboard boats; and even the luxury yachts and cruiser segments.
“The 2019 Boat Show has been positive and we’ve seen sales through a large cross-section of models,” said “Bob Papajohn, President of M&P Mercury Sales. “But, perhaps the most promising aspect of the event has been the enthusiasm of people who are new to boating and are understanding the affordability and ease in which they can get into this activity.”
Yamaha Motors Canada had a similar, positive experience at the Vancouver Boat, according to District Manager of Sales, Steve Cyr, who suggested, “Show attendance and the quality of the crowd has been good.”
With over 125 combined speakers and presentations, the 2019 event contained a program that was educational, entertaining – and had something for everyone. Featured guests, the cast of Discovery Channel’s Cooper’s Treasure, also proved to be a positive draw for the public.
Dates for the 58th Vancouver International Boat Show are scheduled for Feb. 5 – 9, 2020 at BC Place and Granville Island.