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Triumph for “the best boat show in Africa”

Africa‘s largest boat and leisure show, the National Boat Show featuring Dive Expo, has gained its status as the continent‘s premier boat and leisure show by being first with new attractions, new products, leisure events and innovations.

Even though the recession has forced many of us to think very carefully about how we spend our money, it appears the boating, watersports and leisure industry offers the kind of returns that keep the spending public interested.

Close on 32 000 people visited the 2009 National Boat Show featuring Dive Expo, which took place from 14 to 16 August at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg. “This despite the economic downturn,” says Heidi Warricker, managing director of Biz Events. “Waterborne activities present an economical opportunity to combine our leisure, entertainment, health and family interests into one. And a day out on the water is food for the soul.”

A visitor survey conducted at the National Boat Show reveals that South Africans who enjoy this lifestyle are unshakably committed to it, with 60% of those surveyed having visited the show in previous years. The fact that 40% of the survey respondents attended the National Boat Show for the first time is also testament to the growing interest in boating and family orientated leisure activities. The NBS marketing campaign was effectively designed to introduce new as well as active markets to boating, scuba diving, watersports and outdoor leisure activities.

The 2009 show saw a marked growth in attendance by women and family units. This indicates that the choice to enter into the boating lifestyle is a considered family decision. The age group most represented was 30 to 39 followed by 40 to 49.

Survey respondents said they were inspired to attend NBS for its long list of attractions and features. They also saw the show as an opportunity to compare boat prices and to shop around for the best deals, with many respondents intending to spend between R 300 000 –   500 000 on their boating and watersports lifestyle purchases this year. There was also considerable representation in the R 600 000 and upward spending bracket, showing substantial purchasing power in the luxury boat segment. Scuba diving products, fishing gear and accessories as well as boating accessories were also high on the list of must-sees.

Actual purchases or arrangements to purchase were highest in the categories powerboats, scuba diving, jet skis and fishing equipment, followed by engines/motors, property and outdoor accessories.

The NBS exhibitor survey showed that there was for the most part consensus that this year‘s event topped last years. The event was commended as a well-organised, smooth run operation. A sentiment seconded by judges of the show who said it was “an excellently run show with great visitor appeal”, in addition that the exhibition was well marketed with an “extremely effective” marketing campaign.

Mike Friedman from Broderick Sports commented, “Operationally it was streaks ahead.” Rhys Couzyn from Scubapro said, “We were very happy with the number of feet through the door and almost all of the dealers from the Scubapro Village have called us to specifically thank us for arranging the village.”

Andre van Helsdingen of Twin Boats said it was “the best show in South Africa” and further commented, “It has the same feel of what I have experienced at shows in England, Germany and Miami. Despite the economic environment, the show fostered positive, quality business.”

Organiser Heidi Warricker in turn commended exhibitors for their input, “We can congratulate all exhibitors on their fantastic stands, enthusiasm and marketing savvy. It sent out a message that we will continue to make the National Boat Show featuring Dive Expo the leading show of its kind on the continent.”

All in all there were a multitude of factors that went into the success of NBS: most notably its continued innovation and the collaborative effort of the organisers, exhibitors and media.

For the first time this year, the National Boat Show featured the Rapala VMC Fishing for the Future workshops. “Their popularity with both aspiring and professional anglers was clear and this will see the emergence of an even bigger angling area at next year‘s show,” says Warricker.

There were in fact a number of firsts at this year‘s show, affirming the National Boat Show as one of the most innovative events of its kind.

The 2009 show featured a “learn to dive” zone where visitors had the very exciting opportunity of trying a scuba dive under the direct supervision of PADI dive masters and instructors. Wakeboarding champions showed off their fearless skills and tricks while being towed by a giant winch down a 12-metre slider at Wake Wars.

Highly valuable prizes, including the Win-A-Boating-Lifestyle” and “Win-A-Scuba Diving-Lifestyle” in association with Independent Newspapers, and the “Win a Boating and Watersports Holiday” with City Press, added significant momentum in attracting new markets and visitors to the show. The three competitions alone totalled more than R325 000 in value, with many additional prizes being given way throughout the event.

The SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) “Be Safe in Our Waters” campaign also made its debut at the show, along with the SAMSA and National Boat Show mascot Splash the Dolphin. Visitors to the show could also show their support for two important charities by buying a limited edition Firefish Harbour t-shirt.

Warricker confirms that they will, as always, aim to make the next show bigger and better than ever before. Be sure to diarise 13 – 15 August 2010 for the next National Boat Show featuring Dive Expo at Ticketpro Dome.

For further information visit www.nationalboatshow.co.za / www.diveexpo.co.za