Chairman’s Report: MIAMI BOAT SHOW 2019

Miami Boatshow 2019 was huge: more than 91,000 visitors over 5 days.

SABBEX flew the SA flag proudly from a 200 sq foot floating booth alongside Leopard Catamarans/The Moorings/Sunsail on our left and Knysna Catamarans on our right. Phoenix Marine with their Xquisite catamaran were alongside the Knysna 500SE and a few boats away was the latest St.Francis, 8 berths away from Royal Cape Catamarans.

We were joined by colleagues from Invest Cape Town and Wesgro/Green Cape. Key to the success of setting up the SABBEX booth was the awesome support from the SA Embassy staff in Washington DC. Many thanks.

Our Ambassador to the USA, based in Washington, Ambassador Mahlangu and his wife assisted by Economic Minister Letsoalo hosted a Cocktail reception at the SABBEX booth on Thursday, Day 1. Brilliant evening, well attended by USA Boat Dealers, Brokers, Builders and of course Team South Africa. In light of President Trumps penchant for tearing up Trade Agreements the future of the AGOA Free Trade Agreement was discussed by Ambassador Mahlangu. He stressed that it was an Act of Congress and thus far in all the discussions they have had with their counterparts in the US Government all was good. We are holding thumbs.

The Miami Boatshow is huge, it is important but it is expensive, especially for our rand based Exhibitors. However it is vital that we continue with the magnificent presence at the Show with as many SA builders as possible. Buyers expect consistency.

I chatted with Yann Masselot, the CEO of Lagoon Catamarans, the largest catamaran builder in the world. They will deliver 600 units this year, that is a catamaran every 4 hours of a working day per year. He stresses the importance of the Miami Show, especially the very strong Central American and Caribbean buying power. Many wealthy sailors from that region, all being Spanish speakers have holiday apartments in Miami. Miami is the centre of the region and is the biggest and most important Show in the USA for Groupe Beneteau. Let us learn from the biggest player in the leisure boating sector.

SABBEX has a National Pavilion application in place with the dti. We are motivating strongly for their approval.

Some highlights from feedback thus far.

  • Local builders to quote on custom inland boats for Polish and German brands seeking to find a lower cost of manufacture
  • Greek client looking to have a custom catamaran built in SA
  • Commitment from the 3 major USA Leisure marine magazines to visit SA for Country Reports
  • Commitment from the CEO of Discover Boating/Grow Boating in the USA to address and present to SABBEX in SA at the Cape Town Boatshow. Key to growth in the manufacturing sector is to grow the User base.
  • Europe’s premier Brokerage company seeking to invest in SA to expand their global footprint
  • Jamaican Charter Operator to visit Cape Town in March to view progress of boat under construction with a view to placing multiple orders.
  • Possible funding options highlighted by our Washington Embassy Economic Minister Letsoalo include International Finance Corporation (IFC) and MIGA.
  • Solid catamaran sales reported by Leopard Catamarans and The Moorings and Sunsail
  • Royal Cape Catamarans nailed a deposit on a new boat
  • Voyage Charters experienced huge charter interest and bookings, especially for their new “All Electric” Voyage 480.
  • Knysna Yachts have a factory visit scheduled by an American couple, a very positive sign.

Consistency is key with a long term strategy.

We hope our National Pavilion for Miami is approved. This will allow us longer term forward planning that will reduce costs in many ways, airtickets, hotel accommodation, local transport to and from the Show, cocktail and presentation functions during the Show, possibly even combined vessel delivery plans using a small team but keeping them busy.

 – Bruce Tedder, SABBEX/Boating SA Chairman

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