ExCeL – The Verdict

Will 2008 be remembered as a vintage year?

We’ve gone undercover, read the forums, listened to the visitors and the exhibitors and there can be only one conclusion; London is back on the boat show map.

Finally, we have a show to look forward to. The fact that there were so many new and exciting bits of fibreglass really helped. The Princess 50, the Rodman Muse 44, the Fjord and those beautiful Chris Craft Catalinas all impressed. But National Boat Shows (NBS) can take plenty of credit for the great atmosphere. The stage show was worth the entrance fee alone while the North and South Hall layouts worked way better than before.

At 2% down, visitor numbers were close to last year. Not a huge success, but NBS has held its own and this show can only act a springboard for 2009.

There are, of course, concerns raised from the show. The big four may be shouting about strong sales but some of our entry level and smaller business sectors are finding life hard. A factor that we know the British Marine Federation is aware of and that we hope it can help support.

But let us finish on the positive. We spoke to numerous people who were very excited about the 20ft / 30ft / 40ft / 50ft boats they were about to buy and even heard children declare that boats were better than dinosaurs – a reference, we think, to visiting the Natural History Museum and the boat show in one day, rather than the more usual ‘who would win in a fight’ conversation.

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