The 2016 Seattle Boat Show at CenturyLink Field Event Center
The 2016 Seattle Boat Show at CenturyLink Field Event Center

While taking my final walk through the Seattle Boat Show on the docks at South Lake Union and through CenturyLink Field Event Center last week, I chatted with show-goers and vendors about how they enjoyed this year’s show and how it seemed to go for them from a sales perspective.

The response was overwhelmingly positive from both.

Many vendors pointed to record sales years and attendees said they simply enjoyed the show’s atmosphere more this year.

Now that the numbers are in, it seems there was something genuine to all of this glowing feedback I received. Attendance rose 1.4 percent over last year and many exhibitors had credible increases in their numbers compared to past shows.

Along with this positive feedback about the show, local new boat sales for January were the highest in dollars since 2007 and units sold since 2008, which is yet another bit of great news for our burgeoning local maritime economy.

Also, the Northwest Marine Trade Association Career Fair at Seattle Boat Show was a huge success. Twice as many exhibitors took part in the event over last year and three times the number of job-seekers looked to find employment in the industry.

The 2016 Seattle Boat Show at South Lake Union
The 2016 Seattle Boat Show at South Lake Union

More from the official release:

The 69th annual Seattle Boat Show wrapped up on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 with an increase in attendance of 1.4 % 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. Exhibitors across the board were extremely positive about the quantity and quality and positive attitude of show attendees.

“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 upbeat about the show

Exhibitors from all aspects of the industry had extremely positive things to say about the show. Comments included:

  • “It was our best Seattle Boat Show ever in terms of unit sales. We were up 27% in units over last year and 22% 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. ” James Baker, vice president, Seattle Boat Company, dealer for Cobalt and Malibu boats.
  • “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!” Jeff Messmer, vice president, Ranger Tugs/ Cutwater Boats.
  • “The 2016 show was excellent for Alexander Marine USA having sold a new Ocean Alexander 90 and a new Tiara 39 coupe that was just introduced. The new Ocean Alexander 70E was displayed at the show via a scale model and created many leads and interest as we have already sold four of these new models which are being built for Pacific Northwest customers.” Ray Prokorym, vice president, Alexander Marine USA.
  • “This was my first year as an exhibitor and it exceeded my expectations. The interest in paddling sports was high, both from boaters looking to equip their boats with paddling toys, and from people for whom paddling is their primary on-water recreation. The show is clearly a great venue for reaching paddling enthusiasts and we’ll definitely be back.”  Greg Whittaker, owner, Mountain to Sound Outfitters and co-founder, Northwest Paddling Festival.
  • “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% in unit sales and 30% in dollar volume.”  Kevin Roggenbuck, CEO, Lake Union Sea Ray.
  • “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.” Dan Krier, vice president, Marine Servicecenter, dealer for Jeanneau, Lagoon, Island Packet and Blue Jacket yachts.

January Boat Sales Data

Other very encouraging signs for the Northwest recreational boating industry are the just 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.”

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