Last Update: November 3rd, 2017
Crowds descended on the Kaohsiung Exhibition Centre last week for the start of the 1st Taiwan International Boat Show. Held from May 8-11 in the southern port city of Kaohsiung, the four-day event attracted around 70,000 visitors – a much higher number than originally anticipated.
More than 60 yachts were displayed in two exhibition halls and on an outdoor pier, with another 139 component and equipment suppliers in attendance from Taiwan, Australia, the US, New Zealand, the UK, Italy, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Indonesia.
The halls teemed with curious locals, eager to see the many boats on offer. At Tayana Yachts, a Kaohsiung builder of ocean-cruising sailing yachts, visitors queued for up to three hours to board the Tayana 58.
“It’s been absolutely amazing,” Dick Beaumont from Hong Kong-based Tayana Yacht Sales told IBI. “I think all of the exhibitors at the show have been surprised beyond their wildest expectations.”
By day three, Tayana had already sold one boat to a South African buyer and another two vessels to clients from Taiwan. Beaumont told IBI that serious interest had also been received from potential buyers in the US, Greece, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Abu Dhabi.
“We’re very surprised by the response from international visitors as well as the Taiwanese. It really has been astonishing,” said Beaumont. “I would say 99% of the people here are locals, but we managed to sell two boats to people that have never sailed before and they were Taiwanese.”
Like many exhibitors canvassed by IBI, Tayana was forced to introduce an ‘appointments only’ policy for half of the day after its stand was flooded with curious onlookers.
“People are queuing for two to three hours to see our boats.”
Peter Van Lancker, president of US-based Hunt Yachts, also attended the show alongside local OEM partner Global Yacht Builders.
“I think the show is fabulous,” he said. “Attendance has been incredible and I’m really impressed by how well-organised everything is.
“I think a lot of people are so enamoured with the industry that they’re coming here just to see what’s going on. The visitors are mostly locals but we’ve spoken to two potential customers that have expressed an interest and they’re both Taiwanese.”
South Coast Marine, a Taiwan boatbuilder now based in Xiamen, China, was also in attendance with Hull No 2 of the Toro 60 motoryacht – the company’s first own-brand model. South Coast is best known as an OEM builder of Nordhavn trawler yachts for Pacific Asian Enterprises (PAE) in the US.
“The show is much better than we expected, but it’s really hard to control visitors,” South Coast’s P-J (Austin) Hsu told IBI. “I think the ticket price is way too low. People are coming just because it’s our first-ever show, so we’re seeing lots of college students wanting to take photos and touch the boats. It makes it really hard to talk to potential buyers. Boat shows shouldn’t be like that.”
In the Australian pavilion, many exhibitors viewed their attendance as an important flag-waving exercise. AIMEX, the Australian International Marine Export Group, brought more than 20 marine equipment suppliers to the first-time event in order to bolster ties with Taiwanese boatbuilders.
“I think the actual organisation of the show is really good and it was well presented,” said Carl Amor at underwater light manufacturer Aqualuma. “I’m not sure how much business was done but we don’t go to boat shows to sell product. Overall for a first show I think it’s right up there with the best.”
And in the US pavilion, Applied Technology & Management (ATM) was keen to demonstrate its marina consultancy expertise at a time when the Taiwan government is investing heavily in dockage facilities and other large-scale construction plans to encourage water-based leisure activities.
“The show provides a very important opportunity for Taiwan to take another step in the development of the boating industry,” said Esteban Biondi, ATM’s associate principal, marina studio leader. “Manufacturing has always been the focus here until now. The next step has to do with the local market. It has to do with pleasure boating, waterfront development, real estate, public access, marinas and I think we have the expertise to help them in that process.”
Organised by the Bureau of Foreign Trade, MOEA and Kaohsiung City Government, implemented by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and supported by the Taiwan Yacht Industry Association (TYIA), the 1st Taiwan International Boat Show will undoubtedly enhance the global competitiveness of the Taiwanese yachting sector and hopefully entice a new generation of would-be boaters to embrace the leisure marine lifestyle.
By Belinda Snell, ibinews.
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