The Southern Hemisphere’s biggest boat show opens on Thursday

Some 60,000 people are expected to visit the Sydney International Boat Show (SIBS) from August 1-5, but with only about 14,000 new boats registered each year in Australia, not a lot of those people are buying boats. But that’s OK, according to Domenic Genua, general manager for marketing and events for the Boating Industry Association (BIA) of Australia.

“Deliver the show on the premise that it is about education and entertainment and that’s what we do very, very, very well,” Genua told IBI.

Genua said BIA tailors the show for the entire family, targeting events and activities aimed at all ages.

With over 350,000sq ft of exhibit hall, a 5,000sq m open-air event deck, a purpose-built marina with 200 of the 1,000 boats on display, SIBS truly is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest boat show, as it likes to bill itself.

Genua suggests that in the Australian market, you can’t just charge people to come in and buy a boat; there is an expectation that comes with the price of admission.

Two stages run constantly throughout the show, with new presenters every 30 minutes. One stage dedicated entirely to fishing clinics, reflecting the island nation’s love of angling. The second stage features story tellers sharing their adventures of life on the water.

Genua says about 20% of the Australian population takes part in boating in some fashion, and statistics show that there are more licensed boat operators in Australia than there are registered boats, so SIBS has to deliver more than a buying experience. Think of it, in part, as seeding the market.

SIBS tries to provide as much interactive experiences as possible for the entire family.

“We have an external deck that is five stories up in the sky and it’s all about entertainment,” Genua explained. “There is a massive swimming pool and people can try a kayak or stand-up paddleboard. We also have a substantial education area where people come and learn about government regulations, servicing their equipment, so what we say is not ‘come to the boat show and we’ll sell you a boat,’ what we say is, ‘come to the boat show and we’ll take you on a journey of education and entertainment,’ and one of the byproducts of that, is, you can buy anything you like.”

Genua said that Australia’s coastline, estuaries and weather are all ideal for boating culture and lifestyle. “We enjoy life; we’re party people and outdoor people and products have to reflect that.”

The most unique part of the market, Genua said, is Australia’s climate.

“Like all good boat shows around the globe, our is in the middle of winter, and our biggest problem is getting people to wear enough sun screen.”