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Revamped Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show again increased its popularity

The 2018 Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show that ended on Sunday attracted almost 13,000 visitors, as much as 12 per cent more than the year before. The growing popularity was attributable to the long and warm boating summer, improved economic outlook and the revamped exhibition concept now offering more in terms of enjoyable experiences. The outdoor event also benefitted from the clement weather.

This year's Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show was visited by altogether 12,623 people, a good one thousand more than a year ago. During the four-day event, more than 150 exhibitors showcased their offering including 260 boats in the fully booked exhibition area. While the number of exhibitors did not increase from the preceding year, many of them had larger and more impressive stands and boats than in years past.

"At the show you could tell that the economy has picked up momentum and that we have a long and warm boating summer behind us. Many interesting new boats were displayed, a good number of people turned up clearly in high spirits and some deals were consummated as well," says Jarkko Pajusalo, Managing Director of Finnish Marine Industries Federation Finnboat.

The sunny weather favoured the four-day boat show, and the active event concept with a diverse programme garnered compliments from visitors, as did the enticing street food section.

"The Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show was already revamped for last year: In addition to featuring the conventional boat show, the event was developed to provide enjoyable experiences to people, and this is the right direction. People come to the boat show to have a good time and enjoy the programme, good food and the company of others. This time there were also a lot of first-timers and new boaters present," Pajusalo explains.

The Boat-Afloat Show attracted new boaters to the scene

The exhibitors were likewise pleased with the results. Deals were struck both for boats and related equipment. The event indeed featured a comprehensive offering of craft and equipment, and the attractive deals offered there by exhibitors provided visitors with incentives to consider a boat upgrade or equipment replacement.

"The atmosphere at the show was really positive, surely facilitated by the splendid weather. People expressed interest particularly in good second-hand sailing boats. Over the course of the next few weeks, final purchase decisions will be made actually on a number of boats," said Robi Gripenberg of X-Yachts.

"The boat show went very well - I would go out to say that this year's edition was the best we have had. People were really enjoying themselves, and large numbers of new customers looking for their first boat came to have a look at our Suvi craft. A few boats will already be sold this autumn, and additionally many people will get a boat for next spring," adds Terho Liukkonen of Suvi boats.

"For us this was a top year: We achieved truly good sales at the show, met up with a lot of new customers and gained new contacts. Most of our sales consisted of boating clothes and shoes that people acquired with autumn boating in mind. We also sold winterisation trestles, boat cover supports and winter covers. It was great to notice that there were a lot of new boaters present making equipment purchases," says Christoffer Tigerstedt of Waltic.

In addition to the boat and equipment dealers and service providers, this year's show featured plenty of programme: Boat test runs, stand-up paddle boarding, fly board and jet ski demonstrations and various work demonstrations and presentations. One of the performers was the solo sailor Ari Huusela who was present to tell about his preparation for the fabled Route du Rhum, the single-handed yacht race.

"The Boat-Afloat Show gave people an opportunity to see with their own eyes my boat, the tool that I use for plying my trade made familiar by magazines and digital media. There was a steady stream of people coming to my IMOCA 60 Ariel2 boat, and they appeared to be awestruck by it all. They kept peppering me with questions and encouraging comments both on the pier and in connection with my presentations," Huusela recounted.

In Finland, the boat industry is a significant employer: The companies in the field directly employ 3,500 people, while the total employment effect lies between 4,000 and 6,000 people. Boat building is going strong in Finland, unlike in the other Nordic countries. In the previous year, as much as 73 per cent of Finnish production was exported elsewhere.

The next major event in the boat industry in Finland will be the 2019 Helsinki International Boat Show, arranged at Messukeskus, Helsinki's expo and convention centre, between 8 and 17 February 2019. The Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show - arranged by Finnish marine Industries Federation Finnboat - will again take place in the summer of 2019, between 15 and 18 August.