The Durban boat show is to be expanded and turned into an international industry and lifestyle event as from 2019, event director Phindani Nene confirmed on Monday.

This year’s show will still go ahead, in September, but next year’s rejuvenated format will be moved forward to May to coincide with the Africa Travel Indaba. The move is an attempt to breathe new life into the show while simultaneously leveraging marketing opportunities for the City of Durban.

“What we are planning to do is elevate it to an international level, at which we will get international exhibitors,” said Nene, a prominent South African event organiser who recently acquired the show.

Last year’s event was cancelled due to the need to consolidate the event under new ownership.

The new show’s partners include Nene’s company, Durban Stars Sports & Marketing; Durban Tourism; Nautical Channel; and the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Nene said he planned to combine the boat show with a wide range of fashion, sports and lifestyle events, including a fashion show, a triathlon, a fishing competition and live entertainment featuring top global artists.  Both the Durban port and beachfront areas would be utilised. Local schools would also be invited to take part in a boat design competition.

“Planning takes a year, so we will start communication with stakeholders next month,” Nene said, adding that the marketing team would be visiting other boat shows to help with preparation.

This year’s boat show would be used as a marketing and launch event platform for next year’s event. “We will invite those people who are willing to be part of this launch, to give them the platform to showcase themselves,” Nene said.

He said joining forces with the well-attended Tourism Indaba should automatically translate into greater visitor numbers. “Visitors will be there (the Indaba) until Thursday, so they can now be there till Sunday or Monday,” Nene said.

Previously held in June/July, the show recorded a slight dip in attendance in 2016 with just over 8,500 guests.