Numbers down, but organisers positive

The Editor reports on lunch with the National Boat Show organisers


I’ve just had a very interesting lunch with the organisers of the London Boat Show.

Up until the end of Wednesday there had been 63,000 visitors to the show, which is 3000 down on the equivalent point last year.

Andrew Williams, MD of National Boat Shows (NBS), told me he was “extremely happy” with those figures, which may suggest either low expectations or an attempt to put a brave face on disappointing numbers. Nevertheless, he insisted that there were reasons to believe that the end of the show would out-perform last year’s equivalent, pushing overall numbers to parity at least.

In addition, the main message from NBS was to ignore the bombed-out wasteland that ExCeL’s surroundings currently resemble, and concentrate instead on the potential for the area. The 02 (the Millenium Dome to you and me) opens in the summer as an all-singing entertainment complex; transport links are set to improve over the next few years; the Olympics will breathe life into the area, and tens of thousands of new homes will mean not everyone has to travel to reach ExCeL.

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Will this wonderful vision come to fruition? If it does, we’ll all be praising the visionaries at NBS who saw past the dirty, dishevelled Docklands to see the bright future ahead.


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