Students from two different schools in Rhode Island will be building a 13-foot canoe on the floor of the Providence Boat Show, which runs Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.
Boating enthusiasts eager to learn more about their avocation will find just as much to see and do here as those visitors in the market to buy a kayak, sailboat, or personal watercraft from more than 150 exhibitors. And everyone will get a chance to enjoy a renewed surge in boat sales both nationally and in Rhode Island.
“The broad idea is really to get all water enthusiasts to the show,” said Wendy Mackie, CEO of the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, which is running the show this year. “We’ve got young people heading into careers in the industry, so we’re showcasing how they’re learning about boating.
When people come, we want to be able to show them boats; and if you’re a boater, we want you to buy a boat here.”
According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, recreational boating in Rhode Island has an annual economic impact of $508 million, with more than 35,000 recreational boats registered in the Ocean State, the bulk of them motorboats.
While the sale of new powerboats and sailboats increased nearly 11 percent in 2012 nationally, sales in Rhode Island did even better, the manufacturers association said in data provided to Providence Business News. Total retail sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and accessories in 2012 rose 46 percent over 2011, to $63.6 million from $43.6 million, the trade group said.
Organizers want to capitalize on that renewed interest.
“Without question, boat shows around the country were affected by the recession,” said Jonathan Banks, show director. “Several boat shows went out of business, some were canceled and started to come back and there’s been a certain amount of consolidation. What RIMTA is going to be able to offer is, one: the boating market is improving and [also] we’re seeing around the country what other boat shows have seen at 2013 winter shows. Many reported increased exhibit-space sales and attendance.”