Petros Michelidakis is the director of Europe’s most important and influential boat show in the world boating market. We offer you an extract of the interview conducted in the last edition of our podcast Gente de Mar (Sea Lovers).
About Düsseldorf not being a coastal city. “The show started in 1969 for the many inland boat owners in our region, initially there were 120 exhibitors and it lasted 3 days. Since then, it has evolved into an international exhibition.
January, in the depth of winter. “It is true that it takes place in the depth of winter, but it is the start of tourism planning and we are the number one show of the year in the world. The whole boating community is watching what is happening and the messages that the industry is sending out.
The return after two years with no show being held. “Happiness is the word that sums up our mood. It’s good to have fairs and to feel the support of the industry. We will see new brands and concepts, as well as the evolution of electric motors and their incorporation by shipyards. We have 122 new exhibitors who will take up some 9,000 square metres“.
On the overall impression of the sector. “For the big brands, updates are constant. In the small boat sector there is a question mark over whether to develop new models or wait until optimal production levels are restored. There are problems in finding available charter boats in the Mediterranean during the high season, and solving this problem is very important for the whole industry.
Some figures for the next edition. “In the last edition (2020) there were 1,950 exhibitors from 70 countries and 250,000 visitors from 170 countries. It was an extraordinary show, in previous editions we had between 1,500 and 17,000 exhibitors. In 2023 we will have all the major boat brands present, but some sectors such as diving are still recovering from the effect of the pandemic. By contrast, we have 122 new exhibitors occupying some 9,000 square metres. Space hiring is 12% lower, but will decrease over the next three months.”
On the importance of marine tourism and strategic legislation. “We have carried out some studies that indicate that there is a turnover of 240 million seagoing tourists in Europe, in any of its activities. Paddle surfing is one of the most popular water sports. Some decision-makers underestimate the importance of marine tourism. That is why this year we have created the Blue Innovation Dock, where we will talk about sustainability solutions for the industry, but also about the need to generate political development, to communicate more intensively with our industry. We feel there is a lack of decisions from Brussels to establish the future framework for the boating industry. We know that the EU will ban the production of conventional engines in 2035, but we do not know what will happen to boat engines. This is an important question and we would like to have answers. We will debate on minimising the CO2 footprint, on the implementation of electric motors and on the full occupation of marinas in the low season“.