giovedì 18 settembre 2014

Genoa gears to host 54th Salone Nautico

More sailboats, Eataly among boat-show draws

(ANSA) - Genoa, September 18 - Boat lovers rejoice! Genoa is getting ready to host the 54th edition of the annual boat show, running this year October 1-6, a full day longer than previous editions. As always the fair - something of a hybrid business-to-business and consumer event - has something for everyone and for all budgets. Presenting the upcoming Salone Nautico in Milan on Thursday, organizers said some 750 exhibitors will display up to 1,000 sailboats, powerboats and mega-yachts. In particular, this year's show will be a real treat for sailboat lovers, with a record number of exhibitors and products, said Anton Francesco Albertoni, the president of the new company set up to organize the annual fair, one of the world's leading sector trade shows.

Exhibitors have up to 180,000 square meters of space to show off their wares, of which 100,000 square meters are in the water. Following the success of on-the-water "test drives" in previous editions, many more exhibitors will be offering prospective customers the possibility to try out boats and "experience the sense of freedom that being on the sea offers," said Alessandro Campagna, boat show organizer. A new layout has been created for the fair grounds this year allowing for 25% more sailboats and 50% more powerboats to be exhibited, Campagna said. The expansion of the "test drive" program, the show's extended schedule and the increased space dedicated to sailboats are some of the main changes organizers made to meet exhibitors' requests.

While fancy yachts and pretty models are certainly among the main draws for show visitors, its aim is to promote the industry and, especially, showcase the best of "made in Italy." In particular, said Massimo Perotti, the new head of boat industry trade group UCINA and chief executive of mega-yacht maker Sanlorenzo, the Salone aims to create export opportunities for the myriad small- and medium-sized enterprises which make up the backbone of the industry and which have suffered heavily since the global financial meltdown of 2008. In that year, the Italian nautical industry was worth some 6.4 billion euros, Perotti said, while today it is worth around 2.4 billion euros. The industry is again on a positive growth footing, Perotti said, but much depends on the economic outlook in Europe and on firms' success in internationalizing. Exporting for Italy's boat industry is - as for so many of the country's highly focused, small and often family-owned companies - a necessity. And the boat show is a key driver for companies looking to break out of Italy. Exports are important to firms of all sizes, including Sanlorenzo, with annual turnover of some 200 million euros. Perotti said that his company is looking to increase sales annually by 10 percent per year over the next three years and that all of the growth is expected to come form export markets, in particular the US, Latina America and Russia.

Attendees and exhibitors will certainly be pleased with another key change at this year's Salone: the selection of Eataly as the official caterer. All the eateries - from a formal restaurant, to a more relaxed one and "street food" stands - will be managed by the chain, which has become one of the most well-known purveyors of quality Italian food and wines. Salone organizers and Eataly see the partnership as another way to promote the best of the "made in Italy" lifestyle to consumers, both Italian and - especially - foreign. "People don't ask themselves what they are going to eat at a trade show, nor do they recall what they ate when they leave," said Eataly chief executive Piero Bagnasco. "We want to change this." 

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