By: Scott Way
The Toronto International Boat Show is officially cancelled for the first time in its 62 year history. Given the impending fall season and current projections for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian boating industry will sadly see its flagship event postponed until 2022. For Canadian boaters, retailers, and manufacturers, this will present challenges to the seasonal sales cycle and will likely affect industry plans over the next 6-8 months, and beyond. Going to 'The Boat Show' is a mainstream event for boaters and businesses alike, with over 1 million square feet of exhibition space, the world's largest indoor lake, 1200 boats on display, and over 500 exhibitors.
Our 2020 show recap covered the magnitude and cultural impact of the event, and boaters will undoubtedly be saddened to hear of its postponement until 2022.
In their official press release, show President/Show Director Linda Waddell stated: “Despite our extensive efforts and multiple plans to provide a safe environment for attendees and exhibitors, we did not feel comfortable proceeding having the current information from public health and case #’s heading into the fall. Our primary concern has always been safety. Every exhibitor who has worked with us in the past has experienced our culture of prioritizing a safe environment above everything else.”
The show is currently exploring online/virtual options to take place in the absence of the physical event, with more news forthcoming as details emerge. Exhibitors and manufacturers are anticipated to work in conjunction with show organizers to display and promote their 2021 product offerings in a digital format. The show had been scheduled for January 15th-24th and there remains a possibility that a virtual event will take place during that time.
You can read the full press release below:
September 28, 2020 (Toronto, ON) – Due to the ongoing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Boat Shows has made the decision to cancel the 2021 Toronto International Boat Show. It is the Largest Indoor Boat Show in North America.
The event was scheduled for January 15 – 24 at the Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place. It has never been cancelled in its 62-year history. The next in-person show will now be January 21 – 30, 2022.
The health and safety of everyone involved with the Toronto Boat Show is our primary concern and has led the contributing factors coming to this decision.
“Despite our extensive efforts and multiple plans to provide a safe environment for attendees and exhibitors, we did not feel comfortable proceeding having the current information from public health and case #’s heading into the fall,” explained Linda Waddell, President/Show Director. “Our primary concern has always been safety. Every exhibitor who has worked with us in the past has experienced our culture of prioritizing a safe environment above everything else.”
One of the plans included a COVID FREE Show, where each attendee, exhibitor, supplier and venue staff member would have a Rapid Test prior to entering each day. The concept of creating a “daily bubble” was applauded and well received by Exhibitors. However, it became apparent that the approval of tests by Health Canada and the availability would not meet the Show’s timeline or planning standards, even if the show dates were postponed.
“We are disappointed for the exhibitors and attendees who were hoping the show would be held; and will now need to wait until 2022. If there is one thing that COVID is teaching us all, it is the value of face to face,” says Linda Waddell.
While large indoor gatherings remain prohibited in Ontario and restrictions expected to be in place for the foreseeable future, prioritizing sufficient notice to exhibitors was also a factor in the decision.
The Toronto Boat Show has been exploring on-line/virtual options, in place of the in-person 2021 Show. There will be a focus on looking to the future, expanding digital and unifying the in-person experience to deliver even more value to the Toronto Boat Show community. Details will follow in the coming months on these initiatives.
The Toronto Boat Show is highly regarded as the flagship economic indicator for the boating industry in Canada. More boats are sold here than at any other place or event in the country. Occupying 1 Million square feet of space, with over 1,200 boats on display, 550 exhibitors, 300-plus seminars and workshops, as well as thousands of accessories and services in the marine marketplace.
The Show also includes the World’s Largest Indoor Lake, which it builds exclusively each year within the event and holds ten days of programming including: the Indoor Wakeboard Championships, Water Ski Shows, free boat rides, wakeboarding lessons, Sea Flea races, canoe, kayak and paddle board events, remote control boat races and sailing regattas.
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