THE bosses of PSP Southampton Boat Show have insisted this year’s showpiece event will not be harmed by the cancellation of a rival event in Liverpool.

Organisers have scrapped the Liverpool Boat Show just weeks before it was due to take place for the first time, blaming the crippling impact of the economic climate on the marine industry.

But Southampton’s “jewel in the crown” event has been hailed as too strong to also fall victim to the recession, and will continue to provide its major boost to the local economy. Last year’s Mayflower Park event attracted more than 122,000 visitors, and brought more than £16m to the region.

The head of the firm behind the show said the PSP Southampton Boat Show was important for manufacturers, and early indications are they will be standing by it.

Murray Ellis, acting managing director of National Boat Shows, said: “We know the current economic conditions are difficult, but I think the difference is Southampton is a well-established, long-standing and much-loved event.

“It’s going to be tough, but the industry needs Southamp-ton because it is a vital platform. I don’t think the same could happen.”

Organisers said 300 exhibitors were signed up for the Liverpool show and ticket sales had been “flying”. They say it was axed because exhibitors were hit by poor sales at the “commercially disastrous” London show.

Frank Dixie, managing director of Southampton Boat Show sponsor PSP said Liverpool’s failure was a “tragedy”, but was not caused by other events.

He said: “It was the right idea, but at the wrong time. It’s probably one show too many for the UK.

“Southampton is the jewel in the crown as far as national boat shows is concerned, and it’s highly unlikely this will have a devastating effect on Southampton, because people are trying to get into it, not out.”

Southampton City Council leader, Cllr Royston Smith said he did not see the Merseyside event as competition.

He said: “But (its cancellation) underlines the strength of the Southampton Boat Show, which has a reputation established over 40 years and is profitable.”

Southampton City Centre manager, Ian Welland said the boat show was vital to the city’s standing as the “capital of the south”. He said: “It is the biggest event to arrive in Southampton every year and brings visitors and businesses together, generating a tremendous amount of income, not to mention excellent marketing and promotional opportunities for our glorious city.”