The biggest-ever Gold Coast International Marine Expo has recorded its largest-ever visitation and best-ever sales results, qualifying its wide acclaim as a major economic boost for both the Australian marine and Queensland tourism industries.

 Over 20,000 boating enthusiasts streamed through the Expo welcome gates from Thursday-Sunday (19-22 May 2016) to experience ‘the boat show with so much more’.

 What they discovered was another record showcase of over 600 luxurious motor yachts, catamarans and boats of all types and sizes both on land and on the water, as well as over 230 incredibly diverse displays featuring everything from marine engines and equipment to lightweight tenders, jet skis and boating accessories.

Event & Marketing Manager Emma Brown forecast the direct sales activity generated at the Expo will easily surpass last’s year’s figure of in excess of $50 million, based on exhibitor feedback at the close of the Expo.

“The Expo has really come of age this year – our marine industry leaders, in growing numbers, can see the massive benefits of creating an Expo experience that is truly unique to anything in the world.

“This year we had visitors from the United States, Singapore, Japan, China, Korea, the Dominican Republic, Spain, the United Kingdom, a large contingent of New Zealanders as well as people from every state in Australia.

“Our valued exhibitors are all very positive about the sales achieved and enquiry over the four fun-filled Expo days and qualified our Expo visitors as real boating people who just love the boating life,” she said.

“However, the true impact will continue to be measured over the coming weeks, months and in some cases, even years.”

Mrs Brown said Expo has worked diligently over six years to keep costs contained for visitors and exhibitors by remaining not-for-profit.

“Now we need to review and refine Expo … and continue to strive to be the best we possibly can be,” she said.

“Visitor feedback to Expo’s transport links – the free on-site parking, courtesy coaches and helicopters – has all been very positive, as it has been for our new precincts such as the alfresco dining hub, marquee schemes and indoor pavilion.

“It is also very pleasing to hear that other Queensland boat shows have reported strong results this year.

“In the years to come we will look back and remember that multiple events running concurrently as a real turning point for our Australian marine industry and for the way we market ourselves nationally and internationally.

“Expo’s team has already started work for 25-28 May 2017 to further enhance the relevant, unique and rewarding boating experience for our visitors.”

Expo’s early sales results extremely encouraging

Mrs Brown said there were multiple sales across the luxury range at Expo, with Clipper Motor Yachts reporting the sale of four semi-displacement yachts and confident of confirming four more sales by the end of the week.

“That’s a great result from the largest Clipper collection ever to be showcased anywhere in the world,” she said.

David Flynn from Leopard Catamarans completed the sale of the 43 Power Cat at its Australian Premiere, and confirmed a forward order for another 43.

“Expo offers an excellent return on investment – there was really strong enquiry on the 43 and multiple expressions of interest about other yachts in the Leopard range, right up to 58ft,” he said.

Josh Dicker, Ensign Ship Broker and Pacific Blue Cruise Cat: “I started working in the marine industry as a 13-year-old and this is my best boat show experience ever.

“We have sold two new Cruise Cat 40s – built at The Boat Works – and one brokerage catamaran at Expo.

“We also have three more very promising enquiry and some really great feedback.”

Newly announced 2016 Australian Marine Exporter of the Year, Riviera, signed forward orders for 11 brand-new luxury motor yachts.

“There were two orders for the new Riviera 5400 Sport Yacht from New Zealand within the first few hours of the first day of Expo and one for the new 68 Sports Motor Yacht that will have its World Premiere at Expo in 2017,” said Mrs Brown.

“There was also a great deal of interest in the Nordhavn 52 and they reported being able to organise sea trials of an even larger model Nordhavn as a result of Expo.”

Boating bonanza

Mrs Brown said there were over 1200 sea trials undertaken throughout the four Expo days aboard everything from luxury motor yachts to family cruisers, fishing boats and water sports boats.

Mercury Marine’s Queensland manager Mike Wilesmith said his team conducted 751 sea trials alone and reported most were to people looking to put outboards to the test as part of the Mercury Edge experience being offered for the first time in Australia

“Expo visitors were really enjoying themselves and it was great to get families out on the water – some for the first time – and show them just what a Mercury can do and how much fun family boating can be,” he said. “Almost everyone was here at Expo looking to buy something.”

Surf Coast Marine and Broadwater Boating Centre’s Paul Banning reported over $1 million in sales activity across the Cruise Craft and Quintrex ranges, up more than 25 per cent on last year’s Expo.

“We also have solid enquiry generated by some 120 Quintrex Island sea trials and we will be busy this week as we follow up and help more families get out on the water enjoying themselves this coming season.”

Stefan Boating World’s Tim Atkins said the emerging marque’s showcase of over 100 boats at Expo was ‘brilliant’.

“The flow of people on Saturday was non-stop and on Sunday they came through in waves. We are really pleased with everyone who came into our facility and we have sold quite a few boats as a result. We now have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks to follow up with our aspiring new boat owners.”

Sirocco Marine North sold multiple boats, with about 50 per cent of sales going interstate in their best-ever boat show result.

“About 50 per cent of our sales were to people from interstate,” said Sirocco’s Tom Carlisle. “We sold boats to Tasmania and Western Australia – in fact we sold boats to people who had never even owned a boat. It’s great to be able to introduce them to the water.”

Whitewater Marine’s Clint White said Expo visitors were ‘asking the right questions’ and buying bigger boats this year, many of them over 6 metres.

“We sold boats every day of the show,” he said.

Newly established family company Mallards Australia sold their first water sports boat at Expo.

“This really is a game-changer for us,” said Mallards Allan Van de Linde. “We were able to launch our brand for the first time in Australia and now people know who we are.”

More high praise from exhibitors

Jason Harris, Twin Disc: “It’s great to showcase how the Seakeeper stabilizer is changing the way we go boating. We took orders for about 20 retro-fits on existing boats and I hear the new yachts are going very well as well.”

Wesley Cole,  – Whitsunday Escape: “We are very happy to be here. This is a great opportunity to reach out to real boating enthusiasts and invite them to come and enjoy the Whitsundays. We look forward to welcoming them in our cruising grounds over the next few months.”

 Ron Marks, Dynamic Products Corporation: “It’s a stunning result – this was the first time our Free Wheeling hand-operated outboard was shown in Australia and we sold almost 70 units. The biggest success for us, though, was the business-to-business opportunity of Expo and chance to speak with so many industry people and firm up our distribution.”

Darren Carroll, Custom Dry Docks: “Expo is an awesome show and a really good return on investment for us – the sales from Expo will flow for up to six months.”

Mark Leach, Raymarine: “It’s fantastic to be able to showcase the technology that makes boating such a rewarding life experience … we are very proud to be a part of Expo.”

Ben Gibson, jet powered surfboard: “I sold a number of units here at the show and I didn’t expect that because it was more about exposure for me. I have already spoken with our manufacturers in Czechoslovakia about increasing production so we can get them here in time for summer.”

Jordi O’Keefe, Shoreline Yamaha: “We sold everything from jet skis, accessories and the ‘tubby’ line, and we’ve identified new opportunities for servicing, repairs and modifications. We are very pleased with the result this year.”

Also back again are two teams from France – Yann Guichard and Dona Bertarelli’s Spindrift racing, on which Guichard steers. Spindrift is competing on three different inshore catamaran circuits this season so they will be certainly race-ready come Thursday. 

Similarly Sébastien Rogues’ Team ENGIE has been training hard over the winter and this year has in its crew Gurvan Bontemps, one of France’s most talented F18 and foiling catamaran sailors. Rogues says he is looking forward to racing on Lake Garda – as a highly accomplished offshore sailor, he is the only one of his crew who hasn’t raced there before!