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Boating Industry Examines Impact of COVID-19, Recovery & Aquatic Tourism Trends

21st April 2021

High-level panellists from business and politics, including European Commissioner Sinkevičius and a Member of the European Parliament, discussed the key issues for the boating industry, including the impact of COVID-19, the sector’s recovery, and trends in travel and tourism.

It was a unique opportunity for the boating industry to come together in a highly relevant exchange and was attended by Irish Marine Federation Chairman Paal Janson.

The 6th edition of the International Breakfast Meeting (IBM), which was jointly organised by European Boating Industry (EBI) and boot Düsseldorf, was successfully held on 20 April. The event, which was held online for the first time, brought together high-level experts from the worlds of business and politics to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the recreational boating industry, the industry’s recovery, and new trends and opportunities, under the title “A Corona reboot of tourism and recreation: What future for boating?”.

Irish Marine Federation Chairman, Paal JansonIrish Marine Federation Chairman, Paal Janson

"This was very encouraging overall. The European leisure boating market is expected to grow 4% year on year", Janson told Afloat.

The event, which was moderated by EBI Secretary-General Philip Easthill and introduced by boot Düsseldorf Project Director Petros Michelidakis, included the participation through video message of European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius. This was the first time a Commissioner participated in IBM, showing the increasingly prominent presence of the boating industry in EU policy-making. Commissioner Sinkevičius stated that “the recreational boating industry will have an essential role to play to help us build back better”, and he referred to the European Green Deal and the forthcoming Sustainable Blue Economic Strategy as key policies to ensure the protection and cleanliness of marine areas.

"The Beneteau group say the boating market today is stronger than it was pre-pandemic. Charter demand is very high and will be at capacity once travel reopens. Appetite for in-person boat shows and marketing opportunities and this will likely resume in Autumn in Europe", Janson added.

Coming from the sphere of EU policy-making, Member of the European Parliament Ismail Ertug shared with participants the latest developments in EU tourism policy. Mr Ertug, who is member of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee, stated that the sector is facing four main challenges: the first one is about security and safety; the second one is about economic competitiveness among Member States which have different regulatory, administrative and tax burdens; the third one is about technology, where businesses have to keep up with globalisation and digitalisation; and the fourth one is the growing demand for customised experiences. “We are in the middle of the pandemic and last year was the worst one ever, but this is also a big chance for tourism policy. In the past, it was national competence of Member States, but now this is maybe a chance for harmonisation at the EU level.”

Next, Amelie Cesar and Natascha Zwenke, graduates from the Jade University of Applied Sciences, presented to attendees the study they conducted for EBI on the impact of COVID-19 on the boating industry. This study will be officially published on 27 April. Moreover, Lyublena Dimova, Research Manager at the European Travel Commission, gave insights into post-COVID-19 trends in the wider travel and tourism sector. Clearly visible are an increasing optimism among Europeans to travel, a preference for domestic and intra-regional destinations, and coastal getaways being extremely appealing for Western and Central Europeans. Luca Brancaleon, Deputy Director Manager of Groupe Beneteau, talked about the future direction of the industry. Finally, EBI President Jean-Pierre Goudant gave a closing speech.

Petros Michelidakis, boot Düsseldorf Project Director, said: “IBM 2021 provided a formidable opportunity to come together as an industry and look back on this past year, taking stock of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the sector. Although this year’s boot Düsseldorf had to be cancelled, we have put together an extremely successful online IBM, accessible to new participants. I want to extend my sincere gratitude to all speakers for taking part and all participants to make this event a great success.”

Jean-Pierre Goudant, EBI President, commented: “It was a great event, and we were delighted with such a strong presence from the EU institutions, as well as to hear the latest market trends. Boating and the nautical tourism industry are well-positioned to take advantage of the new opportunities in tourism and recreation. The advocacy work that we lead as EBI at the EU level will help drive this forward and support the industry. We very much thank our co-organisers, boot Düsseldorf and Petros Michelidakis, for their support in the event and in these challenging times. We are excited to return to boot Düsseldorf 2022 and hold an in-person International Breakfast Meeting on 25 January 2022.”

220 people attended the event. The Livestream can be found below Team

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boot Düsseldorf, the International Boat Show

With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. Around 2,000 exhibitors present their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

boot Düsseldorf FAQs

boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair. Seventeen exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology.

The Fairground Düsseldorf. This massive Dusseldorf Exhibition Centre is strategically located between the River Rhine and the airport. It's about 20 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from the city centre.

250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair.

The 2018 show was the golden jubilee of the show, so 2021 will be the 51st show.

Every year in January. In 2021 it will be 23-31 January.

Messe Düsseldorf GmbH Messeplatz 40474 Düsseldorf Tel: +49 211 4560-01 Fax: +49 211 4560-668

The Irish marine trade has witnessed increasing numbers of Irish attendees at boot over the last few years as the 17-Hall show becomes more and more dominant in the European market and direct flights from Dublin offer the possibility of day trips to the river Rhine venue.

Boats & Yachts Engines, Engine parts Yacht Equipment Watersports Services Canoes, Kayaks, Rowing Waterski, Wakeboard, Kneeboard & Skimboard Jetski + Equipment & Services Diving, Surfing, Windsurfing, Kite Surfing & SUP Angling Maritime Art & Crafts Marinas & Watersports Infrastructure Beach Resorts Organisations, Authorities & Clubs

Over 1000 boats are on display.

©Afloat 2020

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668

The first boats and yachts will once again be arriving in December via the Rhine.

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