Is the tide finally turning for leisure boating?

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The Independent Travel

The Nautic boat show, one of the largest shows in the world, will begin in Paris next week. Organizers are hoping to target first-time and inexperienced visitors, claiming that the market is "moving quickly" after the recession and the average price tag is dropping.

Recent leisure boat industry events have reported mixed attendance results - the Genoa International Boat Show in October reported an 11 percent drop in numbers. However, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the largest event of its kind in the US, closed on November 2 with an increase in visitors on the previous year. This has prompted hopes that a recovery in the leisure boating industry is just around the corner. Last year, Nautic welcomed over a quarter of a million visitors to the event, which is spread over 180,000 square meters at the Porte de Versailles.

"The Paris boatshow is the most important boatshow for us, alongside Dusseldorf in January," said a spokesperson for French manufacturer Jeanneau. "All the new models for 2010 will be presented."

French brands will make a strong showing at the event, with Jeanneau alone unveiling 12 new models. However, organizers promise that a selection of equally big global names such as Ferretti and Glastron will also be on show.

"The French industry lost about 40 percent of production, but only 28 percent of sales, because there were huge stocks in the dealers' networks," explained a spokesman for the Paris show. "Those stocks have been sold out now. To recover, the industry is unveiling lots of new boats and innovations and the average size of this year's vessels is the largest ever."

Approximately 1500 boats will be on display from 1200 exhibitors specializing in everything from pleasure dinghies to top-of-the-range motorboats, hardest hit by the financial crises. Nautic organizers expect a growth in day and pleasure boats this year, but are also promising a selection of larger vessels to cater for every taste; there will be 12 boats on display over 50 feet (15 meters) long.

Nautic - Salon Nautique de Paris

December 5 - 13
Porte de Versailles, Paris

Top Ten International Boat Shows by Size (square meters)

Genoa International Boat Show (2009) - 311,000
Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (2008) - 278,700
Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail Miami (2009) - 232,820
Boot Düsseldorf (2008) - 221,200
Nautic Paris (2009) - 180,000
Barcelona International Boat Show (2008) - 150,000
Croatia Boat Show (2009) - 128,000
HISWA Amsterdam Seaport Boat Show 2009 (2008) - 110,000
PSP Southampton International Boat Show (2008) - 100,000
Zagreb Sport & Boat Show (2009) - 90,000

Data from International Federation of Boat Show Organisers/Nautic Paris