NMMA cancels boat shows, three still on docket for early 2021

Covid-19 continues to bring uncertainty for boat shows in 2021.

WASHINGTON—With Covid-19 uncertainty lingering into the end of the year, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) announced significant modifications to its boat and sport show schedule for the first months of 2021. NMMA canceled nine shows in the first quarter of 2021 and planned to move forward with three shows, either as currently scheduled or postponed to a later date. NMMA said the decision was made following a thorough market-by-market analysis regarding the feasibility of producing safe and successful winter events.

Canceled shows include Progressive Insurance Atlanta Boat Show, Progressive Insurance Baltimore Boat Show, Progressive Insurance Chicago Boat Show, Progressive Insurance Louisville Boat, RV & Sportshow, Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show, Progressive Insurance Minneapolis Boat Show, Progressive Insurance Nashville Boat Show, Progressive Insurance New York Boat Show and Progressive Insurance St. Louis Boat & Sportshow.

The Progressive Insurance Atlantic City Boat Show scheduled for Feb. 24-28, 2021, Progressive Insurance Northwest Sportshow scheduled for March 25-28, 2021 and Progressive Insurance New England Boat Show, which does not yet have set dates, are still on the books. The Atlantic City Boat Show remains on the books with the option to delay the show to early April 2021.

“At this time we decided to keep them on the books because we have the option of delaying them but never the less, whatever decision we make or not make on that will be solely guarded on the principle of health and safety,” NMMA Vice President of North American Public Affairs John-Michael Donahue said.

Donahue said exhibitors for these shows expressed an interest in still having a show, which was another factor in the decision.

“Boat shows are very important to the industry, so with hearing from their feedback and that they would like to try and make it work if possible, that factored into it with the demand,” Donahue said.

NMMA said they are working with local health officials in each of the markets, along with the venues themselves to develop a comprehensive plan for what the show would look like in the situation that it moves forward. Donahue said they will be releasing safety measures for each show in the coming weeks. Masks and additional spacing between exhibitors are something expected across all three shows he said.

Due to the fluid nature of the Covid-19 situation, these shows have the potential to get canceled or postponed as the dates get closer.

“We do need to again look at this from is it safe and is it going to be a good decision for everyone involved,” Donahue said.

Locally in Southern California, boat shows have been on a hiatus since mid-March. In late November, San Diego Sunroad Marina Boat Show, which was scheduled for Jan. 28-31, 2021, announced the show would be postponed.

“Our top priority is the well-being of our employees, customers, partners, and event attendees,” a statement on the show’s website read. “After much consideration and due to the rules set forth by the state of California and the County of San Diego, we have been forced to make the decision to postpone the January 2021 boat show.”

Duncan McIntosh Company Inc., publisher of The Log and producer of several local boat shows including the Newport Boat Show, San Diego Boat Show and Los Angeles Boat, is also monitoring the situation regarding local and state Covid-19 restrictions.

“As soon as we get the green light to hold our boat shows we will be announcing the dates,” DMCI said in a statement.

While boat shows remain on a hiatus for the foreseeable future, NMMA said they are working on online offerings. Details are expected in the coming weeks.

“We’re exploring a wide variety of options including how we move some of this online,” Donahue said.

Donahue said he is hopeful that by the summer and fall they will be able to resume their regular boat show schedule.

“There’s a great amount of uncertainty around all this, it is our hope and expectation that by the summer and fall we’ll be able to resume a full show schedule,” Donahue said.

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