The 7th Korea international Boat Show and the associated Asia Marine Industry Conference were held from 12-15 June at the Kintex exhibition centre in Soul

The event revealed a strong focus on maritime safety issues, which had been driven by the recent tragic sinking of the commercial ferry Sewol.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Governor of Gyeonggi Province Kim Moon soo, said: “Today we have our lifejackets on at this opening ceremony to emphasise the importance of maritime safety and we will continue with additional strategies for next year, to make sure that leisure boating is not considered dangerous but safe.”

Sewol sank with a loss of over 300 passengers, mainly teenagers, on the 16th of April. The sinking resulted in a widespread social and political reaction within South Korea, ranging from criticism of the actions of the captain, crew and the operator of the ferry to the regulators who oversaw its operations. The South Korean Government has also been attacked for its poor disaster response and in addition the media in attempts to downplay government culpability.

Korea is developing its leisure boating market, however there an image of the sea as a dangerous place is one of the obstacles to overcome by the industry.

Public attendance at the four-day show was reduced by impressions of the disaster. However, most exhibitors were confident about the boating market, which as opposed to other markets in Asia, is becoming middle class.

The Marine Industry Association of South Africa delegation had a strong presence at the show. CEO Vanessa Davidson commented: “We are here with our members for the second year and response has been positive despite the slight reduction in visitor numbers. One of our members has sold a 76’ tourist catamaran as a result of exhibiting last year.”

The 6th Edition of the Asia Marine Industry conference ran concurrently with the show. Chaired by Tim Coventry, the conference also focused strongly on safety issues with a keynote presentation from James Vaughan, the international director of the UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The next edition of the Korea International Boat Show and Asia Marine Industry Conference will take place from 28t-31 May, 2015. Plans have been announced to add an on-water display for larger yachts.