The 2021 Toronto International Boat Show has been cancelled for the first time in its 62-year history as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The show, the largest of its kind in North America attracting more than 70,000 visitors, was set to take place from Jan. 15 to 24 at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place.
The next in-person show is now being planned for Jan. 21 to 30, 2022, producer Canadian Boat Shows announced on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
“The health and safety of everyone involved with the Toronto Boat Show is our primary concern and has led to the contributing factors in making this decision,” President and Show Director Linda Waddell stated.
“Despite our extensive efforts and multiple plans to provide a safe environment for staff, attendees and exhibitors, we did not feel comfortable proceeding having the current information from public health experts and the number of rising cases heading into the fall.”
One of the plans included a “COVID-FREE Show” where each attendee, exhibitor, supplier, and venue staff member would have taken a rapid test prior to entering each day, she said.
Virtual options explored
The concept of creating a “daily bubble” was applauded and well received by exhibitors, but, it became apparent that the approval of tests by Health Canada and the availability would not meet the show’s timeline or planning standards, even if the show was postponed, she added.
While large indoor gatherings remain prohibited in Ontario and with restrictions expected to remain for the foreseeable future, prioritizing sufficient notice to exhibitors was also a factor in the decision, organizers stated.
Online/virtual options were also explored. Organizers plan to focus on looking to the future, expanding digital offerings, and “unifying the in-person experience to deliver more value.” Details on these efforts will follow in the coming months, organizers stated.
Cancellation one of many
The boat show is regarded as the industry’s flagship economic indicator, generating more than $354 million in economic impact to the region, organizers stated. More boats are sold there than at any other place or event in Canada.
It normally features more than 1,200 boats on display, 550 exhibitors, 300-plus seminars and workshops, and thousands of marine accessories and services, in approximately one million square feet of venue space.