No competition: two Gold Coast boat shows united in aim for sales

The Coomera marine precinct will come alive for boating enthusiasts and families, free entry.
Gold Coast City Marina
The advent of the Gold Coast Marine Expo, scheduled for November 4-6 at Coomera marine precinct, has prompted a flurry of opinions as to whether the region is big enough for two shows. Here, those involved set minds to rest and explain that two event offer twice the opportunity for the public to sample the boating lifestyle and reach a broader cross section of people, at both ends of the year.

Each May, Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, now an iconic globally recognised event with 23 years under its belt, known as a calendar highlight and member of IFBSO, is a magnet for national and international visitors, manufacturers and delegates seeking to do business.

The Gold Coast Marine Expo, an initiative of Gold Coast manufacturers, dealers and Gold Coast City Marina describes itself as a 'much needed boost to boat sales at the start of summer'.

According to Dean Leigh Smith, director of GCCM and one of the organisers of the Marine Expo, there is no shadow of competition in the genesis of a second boat show.

'We are not trying to emulate Sanctuary Cove or replace them. It’s a different kind of show, with working displays and hands-on experiences. We are pitching an entirely different boating experience and trying to attract people who may not spend $20 to go to a boat show.'

He says those involved are thoroughly supportive of Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show.

'We are all 110% behind Sanctuary Cove and work very closely with them. The Gold Coast City Marina and Leigh Smith Cruiser Sales are enthusiastic supporters. We have been involved since the very beginning and will definitely be exhibiting next year.'

South east Queensland is big enough for the two shows, states Leigh Smith.

Dean Leigh-Smith at the launch from Gold Coast City Marina
Stephen Milne


'This is the first time in our city we have a seasonally relevant opportunity to promote boating, which is a lifestyle activity. November is the ideal time of year for dealers to offer up new, used and trade ins in time for Christmas. There has been a hole in the marketplace and we have set about filling it.

'Our show gives people who might not have the opportunity to exhibit and meet the market. We have a ready-made boat show, her with two waterfront sites. This is all about getting people out on the water, however they want to do that.

'We can all see the greater good in this and it has been a great opportunity to work together to network and grow everybody’s business together. I am sure we will coexist for a long time.'

Don Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Marine Queensland, agrees, praising the GC Marine Expo for harnessing 'the best minds and brands in the industry' to make it a reality.

'My sense is that there is scope for more than one show in the Gold Coast region,' he says. 'The key issue in my opinion is having a clear understanding on who the show is targeted towards - both exhibitors and visitors.

'There is no denying the success and credentials of Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. Like most long running events, there is always a need to reinvent itself to keep its appeal fresh for exhibitors and visitors alike. I am sure that the organising team at SCIBS will do everything in their power to ensure its continued success on the national and international marine event calendar.

'The Gold Coast Marine Expo is about to enter the market in a few weeks. It may well get a baptism of fire given the difficult trading conditions in the industry at present.

'Notwithstanding this, I believe that there continues to be segments of the industry that may be attracted to a well-positioned and organised event.'

Continues Jones: 'From Marine Queensland’s perspective, increased competition in the event marketplace should be an important catalyst to motivating the event management teams to deliver first class events in the region.'

Jones says it’s highly unlikely that 'the new kid on the block will replace SCIBS'.

'The market should be able to accommodate two well positioned and organised events. I don’t see that the two events need necessarily compete head to head. The winner will be the whole marine industry, the Gold Coast region and the boating public.'

From Sanctuary Cove, Sue Thomson, General Manager Events and Marketing, says she and the SCIBS team view the GC Marine Expo as 'extremely positive' for the boating industry and recreational boating in the region.

'If additional boat shows create an environment where people are buying boats and other products, we are all for it. The Expo will bring people to the boating hub of the Gold Coast and shed insight on building and enjoying boats at the Coomera precinct.

'It’s a great time of year to remind people about how boating enriches our lives and is a great family pastime.'