THE boss of the PSP Southampton Boat Show has declared the event’s 44th edition a success as it enters its final day – and reported a rise in visitors compared to last year’s show.

Murray Ellis, managing director of show organisers National Boat Shows, said the ten-day marine showcase at Southampton ’s Mayflower Park had “delivered on all levels”.

As the Daily Echo went to press, visitor numbers were up three per cent on last year, with as many as 50,000 people expected to pass through the gates on the show’s final three days to take the total to around 120,000.

“The general feeling is that it’s been a cracking event, a cracking show,” Mr Ellis said.

“We’ve been blessed with the weather and the feedback we have had from visitors and exhibitors is that the show has delivered on all levels.

“We won’t know the final figures until after the show, but we will take a rise in numbers on last year as a good result.”

Launched in 1969, the show has grown into the biggest event of its kind in Europe, boasting more than 1,000 boats spread over a site the size of 25 football pitches.

More than 350 of the event’s boats are on show in the purpose-built marina, which features more than 2km of pontoons, helping it to be ranked in the top ten boat shows in the world.

Despite challenges presented by the current economic climate, organisers are confident the show is upholding its reputation as a world-class event.

Southampton Boat Show has been going 44 years and it continues to go from strength to strength,” Mr Ellis said.

“It’s one of the great success stories of consumer shows in this country.

“The PSP Southampton Boat Show is a world-renowned show, so the challenges are making sure we maintain the standards, deliver the right facilities for our exhibitors and ultimately delivering for our visitors.

“It’s challenging but there are 550 companies out there, 350 boats on the water, over 60 launches of boats and products, including 16 world launches.

“The indications are that we’re giving people the best opportunities to sell their products and the best opportunities for visitors to buy what they want to buy.”

Star turns from Formula 1 driver Jenson Button, pundit Eddie Jordan and medal-winning members of Great Britain sailing and rowing teams have helped shine the spotlight on the show – but Mr Ellis says the real star stories are those of the exhibitors.

“The real success story is the success of our exhibitors doing business here – that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

“The show is on a level where it’s promoting the British marine leisure industry on a global scale.”

One of Southampton’s flagship events, the boat show is worth an estimated £12m to the city in added revenue, as well as placing it firmly on the global map.

“I’m very proud of Southampton as a city,” Mr Ellis added.

“The boat show puts Southampton on the map and gives it global presence.

“The show is important for the region too. Whether it’s extra business for taxis, hotels, restaurants – it all generates income which is very welcome in this climate.”