Spirits were high at this year’s Helsinki International Boat Show (Vene 18 Båt), despite a 9.7% drop in visitor attendance compared to the previous edition. Around 64,500 people visited the 10-day show, which closed on Sunday, compared to 71,000 last year.

Vene Båt is the biggest boating event in Northern Europe and is held annually at Messukeskus Helsinki. This year, 540 boats were present and 316 exhibitors attended the fair.

“The main reason for the number of visitors was the change in our invitation concept,” Teija Armanto, the show’s information manager, explains. “This year we sent exhibitors e-tickets instead of printed invitations, but there were also printed invitations available at the show. Exhibitors sent fewer invitations and there were 26% (6,700) less visitors who came with the invitations. We are going to do something about this next year.

“The first Friday, which was Trade Day last year, was good and we had more visitors this year,” Armanto adds. “Exhibitors sold boats at the fair and were satisfied with this.”

Finland is well-known for its aluminium boats, which account for around 60% or possibly more of all new motorboats sold. This was very obvious at the Helsinki show, where a lot of aluminium boats were on display. Buster Boats, for instance, showed a brand-new Buster Phantom Cabin and Silver presented its new Silver Fox.

Jarkko Pajusalo, CEO of Finnish marine industry association Finnboat, says trade at this year’s event was strong. “The industry has once again made a major event in accordance with international standards,” he says. “Purchase decisions were made quickly in the equipment and boat sectors, so the economy must be picking up.”

According to a Kantar TNS visitor survey, 86% of visitors to the show were boaters. Around 92% of visitors were pleased with the offerings and 91% said they would attend or probably would attend the fair next year. More than half of the visitors were interested in motorboats at 62%, while 22% went to see sailboats.