MIE cited the damaging effects of the economic climate in the leisure marine sector impacting on exhibitor take-up for the event and said the integrity of the long term potential for a major boat show in Liverpool needed to be protected.
Rob Mackenzie, Managing Director of MIE, said: “Our decision is obviously appalling news and it has been an extremely difficult decision to take, not least because of the enormous sense of responsibility and partnership we feel for everyone in Liverpool. “The city council and its corporate partners, British Waterways, Liverpool Marina, Albert Dock Liverpool and the local sailing community have worked very hard to support this project.
“The failure and the financial loss and its consequences is MIE’s to bear alone, but it is better to cancel the show to protect Liverpool’s reputation rather than to allow exhibitors who booked in good faith and visitors who would have travelled from all over the country in expectation of the participation of brands who’d made late decisions not to take part. “More than anything else, we’ve cancelled the show to protect the integrity of what we know to be the enormous long term potential for a major Boat Show in Liverpool.”
The Liverpool Boat Show was launched 18 months ago and enjoyed strong support from many of the major marine brands. The concept of a major national event based in the North and serving the wealthy and rapidly expanding sailing and watersports communities around the Irish Sea was widely welcomed by the specialist marine press. During the period, more than 300 prospective exhibitors, sponsors and partners visited Liverpool’s world famous waterfront and were astounded by the city’s extraordinary renaissance, the quality of the facilities and the vast potential of its waterspace for a major new marine event.
This enthusiasm rapidly translated into a strong groundswell of contracted and in-principle exhibitor support across a broad cross-section of the leisure marine industry.
However from late November 2010, market sentiment about the economic outlook deteriorated rapidly affecting confidence in boat manufacturers, dealers, smaller retailers and traders.
This negative trend accelerated sharply in late January, with many contracted exhibitors citing a commercially disastrous London Boat Show as the catalyst for their decisions to withdraw from Liverpool, said Mr Mackenzie. Mr Mackenzie added: “So many of the marine industry’s key players and its press have now seen and understood the unique possibilities of a Liverpool Boat Show, and it is only the consequence of disastrous market conditions which have forced the industry to draw back from embracing the concept fully. “That long term prize will now fall to organisations other than MIE to deliver. After a period of reflection, and when the market improves, I believe the industry will collectively recognise the strategic opportunity missed and Liverpool will eventually stage the uniquely vibrant boat show we have tried so very hard to bring to the city.”
Cllr Wendy Simon, cabinet member for culture and tourism, said: “It is extremely disappointing that the economic downturn affecting the whole of the maritime sector has caused MIE to cancel the inaugural Liverpool Boat Show “We are very aware of the economic impact this will have on our tourism economy. However the boat show is just one of three major maritime events we have in place and we will look to those to mitigate the effects for those businesses concerned. We worked extremely hard to make the Boat Show happen in Liverpool this year as it would have been a great showcase event for the city. However, we have the building blocks in place to stage other exciting maritime events and to revive the Boat Show in the future when the national economic outlook recovers”
Discussions between LCC and other local partners have now started on whether an alternative event can be staged, but MIE will have no further involvement in this process. Max Steinberg, chief executive of Liverpool Vision, said: “We have already started to consider what we can do to minimise the economic impact of the cancellation of the Liverpool Boat Show. “There has already been significant investment by MIE and British Waterways in establishing world-class berthing and staging facilities and we intend to use them to the city’s best advantage.
“In addition to the permanent pontoon legacy, strong foundations for future large maritime events have been laid. Over the course of the last 15 months, MIE brought more than 300 marine businesses and marine specialist press to visit Liverpool. “Their collective response has been overwhelmingly positive, from Liverpool’s facilities, to the city’s willingness to support such events as well as the robust way in which so many of our private sector companies were prepared to join co-promotional partnerships with major boating brands to the benefit of Liverpool.”
Other maritime events taking place in the city in 2011 are On The Waterfront (the opening of the Museum of Liverpool, including the Centenary of Liver Building) 22-24 July and The River Festival, 8-15 September.