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Wilmington Boat Show To Bring Economic Activity, Visitors To The Region

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Aug 23, 2019
The Wilmington Boat Show is estimated to bring thousands to the Wilmington Riverfront Sept. 6-8. (Photo courtesy of the Wilmington Boat Show
The Wilmington Boat Show is anticipating a successful 2019 in the Port City, despite the impact hurricanes have had on the show for the past two years.

This year "will be amazing,” said Jacqui Bomar, president of JBM and Associates, which is putting on the event in downtown Wilmington, Sept. 6-8.

Now in its fourth year, the show will take place at Port City Marina, Pier33, the Wilmington Convention Center and Battleship Park. A free ferry ride service between Battleship Park, where there's parking, and other venues in the city will be provided during the three-day event by Wilmington Water Tours.

Last year, the show couldn’t use Battleship Park because of construction. But because of current construction downtown, part of the show will be moved to the boatyard by Marina Grill, Bomar said.

“This year, we are back at Battleship Park, where we can do some of our fun features and food trucks and things like that,” Bomar said.

In previous years, Hurricane Irma in 2017 and Hurricane Florence in 2018 impacted the turnout for the event.

The Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is estimating again that the direct economic impact from this year’s show will be more than $619,000, said Connie Nelson, spokeswoman for the Wilmington CVB.

When using a 2.5 multiplier, the total economic impact is estimated at more than $1.5 million, she said. The figure is based on anticipated attendance this year and not actual attendance from previous years.

Bomar said this year’s show is expected to attract 12,000 to 15,000 people.

The attendance number the first year that JBM and Associates brought the show to Wilmington, in 2016, was 11,300. During the years when hurricanes affected the show, the attendance dipped, to 7,100 in 2017 (which only had a two-day show) and 9,000 in 2018.

Last year’s show drew in people from all over the country, as far west as California, Wisconsin in the north and Puerto Rico in the south, according to a demographics report from the 2018 show that had nearly 1,700 responses.

And 36% of all attendees who responded earned an income $125,000 or more. More than half of the respondents were between 45 and 64 years old. The surveys are mainly used for marketing, Bomar said, which is on average a $60,000 cost for the presenters each year.

“The Wilmington Boat Show is well positioned along the pedestrian-friendly Riverwalk, which offers attendees the convenience of walking from nearby hotels to the Port City Marina and Wilmington Convention Center" and other area businesses and attractions, Kim Hufham, president and CEO of the New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority, said in an email.

Features of the show this year include DockDogs, a canine aquatics competition, and Wilmington Fishing Expo. And for the kids, there's the Coastal Carolina Fisherman Young Angler seminar and the appearance of a mermaid. For the full detail, list click here.

There is also a VIP Preview and Party at the Wilmington Boat Show on Sept. 5 called “Under the Stars.”

“Wilmington has been so welcoming to the show that it just gives everyone a chance to meet the locals because a lot of the folks we have coming to the show, who are participating in the show, they are not local,” Bomar said.

And then there’s the boats. The show has grown to more than 85 different boat lines this year, up from about 70 last year, Bomar said.

“Boating enthusiasts who attend consumer shows to shop for their next boat are more likely to have the expendable income that affords them the luxury of spending more on accommodations and activities such as dining and shopping,” Hufham said. 
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