The 2015 Korean International Boat Show (KIBS) closed on Sunday, with the organisers anticipating a 25% increase in visitors when the audited figures are finalised later this week.

One of the key exhibitors, Boat Korea, confirmed to IBI sales of 22 boats – mostly inflatables and small outboard-powered boats of 20ft in size.

Alan Steber from Steber International, an Australian workboat and utility boat builder with a range of boats from 22ft-65ft, said: “The Korea International Boat Show was exceptionally well run and well attended by visitors. I have walked away with 10 qualified enquiries to follow up, which has gone beyond all my expectations.”

Dhanusha Marine from Sri Lanka was another first-time exhibitor, with an example of their small boat range from 13ft to over 35ft on display. “The show has been excellent for me with two container loads of our small boats ordered for Korea and one container ordered by a trade visitor from Qatar in the Gulf,” says managing director GS Fernando.

A visit to Jeongok Marina near Seoul, the site for the first edition of the Korea show in 2008 and IBI‘s first visit after three years, confirmed that there has been strong market growth particularly in the small powerboat sector from 20ft-30ft. Boats afloat in the marina numbered nearly 200, of which 40% were sailing yachts. On the land there were approximately 500 small powerboats between 20ft-35ft kept on trailers and launched down the marina’s wide launching ramp. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of marine-related businesses around the marina.

According to director Kan of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries in Korea, there are now 20 marinas operating – an increase of 19 in the past seven years.

The camping, caravanning and four-wheel drive market is also growing, another indicator that Korean interest in outdoor activities and adventure is growing rapidly in a country of 49 million people, with a large middle class population and a GDP per head in 2014 of US$35,400.

Korea is also the only middle class Asian country that has a significant seaboard with land for marinas and boat storage compounds, allowing boats to be towed on trailers. Both Singapore and Hong Kong, whilst having higher GDP per head, have crowded and short seaboards, driving up the cost of berthing and boat storage. Both countries also prohibit the towing of boats on their roads.