Messe Frankfurt wants 50% visitor increase at Cape Town show

By Bobby Jordan
Fri Sep 14 2018, 08:38 AM

Event organiser hopes to attract up to 15,000 visitors

Cape Town International Boat Show owners Messe Frankfurt are hoping for a 50% increase in visitor numbers to this year’s edition on the back of significant investment in a rejuvenated format. That’s according to Messe Frankfurt SA chief executive Konstantin von Vieregge, who says the company wants to build the show into its flagship event in sub-Saharan Africa.

“That is the roadmap – that is why we bought the show,” Von Vieregge told the South African Boatbuilders Export Council (SABBEX) in an interview published in their latest newsletter. “You can’t get there in just a year or two, but we are thinking 10 years down the line. We envisage that this show will become a major international boat show. We want to be the biggest show [of any kind] in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Held in October, the Cape Town show is the highlight of the boatbuilding calendar in South Africa, but has struggled to attract visitors in recent years due partly to tough economic conditions. Last year’s edition drew around 7,000 visitors, slightly up on 2016 figures. But Von Vieregge says the company is aiming for between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors next month on the back of an expanded exhibitor footprint and collaboration with the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

The V&A has scheduled its own ‘Water Month’ to coincide with this year’s boat show which takes place at their marina facility.

Von Vieregge said Messe Frankfurt aimed to attract ‘fence-sitter’ boat buyers by including a range of luxury items in addition to boats. This year’s show also aims to be more ‘child-friendly’.

“I’m a very strong believer that the industry – and the show – has got the task of basically breeding the customer for the future,” Von Vieregge told SABBEX. “We didn’t excite the children in the last show. If you haven’t bought a boat [any boat] before the age of 30, the chances are slim that you will do so when you are 40 or 50 when you finally have the means to do so,” he said.