Genoa - Optimism, which these days is in scarce supply; as well as good visitor attendance (+6.2%), exhibitors and representatives from the public and private sectors. This is how the 56th Boat Show kicked off yesterday at the Fiera di Genova, under a timid sun that lasted for almost the entire day. An event “to dispel the crisis”, as many have defined it, with the stated aim of bringing attention to the recreational boating sector, which after years of difficulty, especially in the domestic market, is showing signs of recovery. Notably absent at the opening ceremony - due to “a delay in her flight back to Italy from the US,” as the organizers explained - was Carla Demaria, head of UCINA, the yachting industry association to which, since 2014, Fiera di Genova has entrusted the running of the event. In her place was Massimo Perotti, former president of Confindustria’s yachting division and CEO of Sanlorenzo Shipyard, who spoke of the Genoa Boat Show as the only “option for such a trade show in Italy, thanks to the hardware, the location, and history.”
Then as a slap on wrist to the government, he continued, “a bit recalcitrant on issues of the electronic registry and the new code of sailing.” On stage, next to Mr. Perotti, was the governor of the Liguria Region, Giovanni Toti, who spoke about “the current Boat Show being an opportunity to relaunch the annual event.” “The Genoa Boat Show,” he added, “represents a significant investment for the Region, for the entire city, and for the main players. The event is part of the city of Genoa, and of Liguria, and is a driving force for Italian companies in the sector and critical to our economy. The Region has acknowledged its importance from its start.” “Those who predicted that the 2016 Boat Show would not materialize,” he said, “have been proven wrong.” “I don’t care,” concluded Toti, “whether this or that minister puts in an appearance, what I do care about is that the government play its role, and be there to finance Italian entrepreneurship and support it at the appropriate times.” The latter remark was a reference to the fact that Rome has sent to Genoa the Minister for Regional Affairs, Enrico Costa, while many expected the attendance of a representative from a “weightier” ministry.
According to Costa, a sector such as yachting, which has found itself in difficulties, was able to “pick itself up on its own, and now it’s up to the state to do its part by streamlining the many regulations that burden the sector, rather than introducing new ones.” Through a video link, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy, Paola De Micheli, spoke on the need “to introduce new simplified procedures to support business.” The Show this year has about one thousand boats on display, counting both the on-land exhibition space and the boats moored by Genoa’s waterfront, occupying 180,000 sq. metres in total, 100,000 of which are in water. It must be mentioned that the total turnover of the sector (up 17%), hovered around the €2.9 billion mark. While it’s correct to want to aim higher, according to many it’s already an excellent starting point.