South Africa's Cape Town International Boat Show is set for a radical makeover under the ownership of Messe Frankfurt, which takes over show management as from next year.

Future editions of the show are likely to feature add-on events such as 'a conference component', possibly with government involvement, according to Messe Frankfurt South Africa chief executive Constantin von Vieregge.

In a statement issued on Tuesday to mark the close of this year's show, von Vieregge and outgoing owner Dana Whiting both said the new format aimed to build on the success of the 17-year-old  event, widely considered South Africa's most prestigious show.

“The fact that an international group like Messe Frankfurt have now taken over the show is a clear signal they see an even bigger future for this event,” Whiting said.

Von Vieregge said the new format would try to showcase boating lifestyle 'by including more interactive elements'.  “We are focussed on creating a platform where exhibitors will sell more boats and associated products,” von Vieregge said.

“The founders have done a great job in getting the boat show to this point. We are confident that we can take it to the next level by attracting even more people to come and enjoy the experiential aspects of life on the water. Coupled with the natural beauty Cape Town has to offer and the iconic V&A Waterfront as a venue, I’m sure we can soon position this event among the world’s best boat shows,’ von Vieregge said.

Attendance figures for this year's event were slightly up compared with last year, at just over 7,000.

Von Vieregge said Messe Frankfurt's global connections “across a number of exhibitions” would help add new elements to the Cape Town version. The organisers were looking to increase business-to-business and conferencing aspects “that will help bring in visitors from across the continent and globe,” the statement said.

Whiting said he was happy to be leaving on a high note as the latest show, which concluded on Sunday, appeared to have been a success despite the relatively low attendance compared with earlier editions of the show when it was also held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

“Initial feedback from exhibitors has also been very positive. Boats and their related activities are not cheap anymore and can be a tough sell in our prevailing economic conditions. But it’s a credit to the quality of our local manufacturers that business was considered to be brisk. As with most events of this kind, the final deals are only completed over the next few days and weeks,” Whiting said.