Positive Buzz and Strong Sales Highlight 50th Vancouver Boat Show

The Vancouver International Boat Show marked its 50th anniversary Wednesday -Sunday with steady attendance, enthusiastic crowds, and reports of strong boat and equipment sales. The show ran indoors at the renovated BC Place Stadium and afloat at Granville Island Marina, its first year at the latter venue.

On the busiest day, Saturday, combined attendance at the two venues was up 12 percent over 2011. Despite Saturday’s showery weather, more than 3,900 show-goers crowded the Granville Island docks – a one-day record for the in-water show. For much of the day, there were long queues outside both venues and for the shuttle buses between them.

Although Wednesday-Thursday attendance was down slightly from last year, there was a distinctly positive buzz among attendees and exhibitors right from the opening of the show, likely reflecting renewed consumer confidence and pent-up demand, said show manager Eric Nichol.

“There’s a positive atmosphere at BC Place and Granville Island, as if pent-up excitement has finally had an opportunity and an outlet to be released. People are coming out to see what's new and exciting and they're buying as well. Whether it’s accessories or boats, exhibitors are seeing very good results,” Nichol observed Saturday afternoon.

Near the 5 pm Sunday close, Nichol added that many exhibitors reported “dramatic” year-over-year increases in sales. Equipment sales were especially brisk over the weekend, while one inflatable dealer sold up to 30 boats, including several higher-end RIB tenders.

“People were happy, they were pumped, they were excited,” said Canadian Yachting West publisher Mark Collett, a 30-year veteran of the show. “I think people have finally decided that they just need to go out and enjoy themselves – and that means going boating. So they made purchases they may have put off over the last year or two.”

This year, VIBS returned to BC Place after a two-year absence: in 2010 it was displaced by the Winter Olympics, while in 2011 stadium renovations shifted the show to the new Vancouver Convention Centre, a smaller venue. Granville Island is expected to become a long-term home for the in-water show.

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