Britain’s leading luxury boat maker Princess Yachts is to miss out on the chance to unveil two new vessels at Europe’s biggest boat show after Germany’s boot Dusseldorf fell victim to the surge in Covid cases on the continent.
The regional North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) government has just pulled the plug on the event, one of the largest boat shows in the world, less than a month before it was due to go ahead.
It means Plymouth-based Princess Yachts, along with other UK marine industry companies, will not be able to show off their products at a key sales-generating event for the second year running.
But Princess Yachts had already made the decision to pull out of the event after Germany banned most British visitors just before Christmas. It is working on an alternative way for its boats to be exhibited to potential buyers.
Now, due to the spread of the omicron variant, tighter restrictions have been in place in Germany since December 28, including on events.
And now, following a meeting of the Minister Presidents of the German federal states, to discuss the pandemic situation, NRW has banned the holding of large events with spectators in January.
This affects boot Düsseldorf, which as a supra-regional leisure fair can now not take place in 2022 due to the measures decided by the state government.
The event was due to take place between January 22 and 30, 2022, after being cancelled in 2021 because of the Covid pandemic.
More than 1,500 exhibitors from at least 50 countries were due to fill 17 exhibition halls and 220,000sq m of exhibition space.
Princess Yachts was planning to launch the Princess X80 and the all-new V50 in Düsseldorf, and also give show debuts to the Princess X95 and Y72, with the Princess F55 and V55 will make up a six-yacht display.
And it had high hopes of generating sales from the event, organised by Messe Düsseldorf, which has been a money-spinning success for Princess Yachts in the past. It took orders for £30m of boats in 2018, and £38m in 2019, and in 2020 said it enjoyed, “unprecedented stand visitor numbers and levels of sales.”
A statement on Princess Yachts’ website said: “Following the new German government restrictions that were put in place on British travellers, we regret to inform you that Princess Yachts is no longer able to participate in Boot Düsseldorf in January 2022.
“We are working hard to organise an opportunity for customers to view the show line-up in the UK in early 2022.”
Wolfram Diener, chief executive of Messe Düsseldorf: “The pandemic must be overcome as quickly as possible so that the trade fair industry can once again work with planning security for exhibitors and visitors.
“It is therefore with a heavy heart that we have to say goodbye to holding boot in January 2022. However, the decision of the state government is also in line with the wishes of many exhibitors who are very worried about participating in boot during the omicron wave.
“I ask all those involved for their understanding and support so that we can get back to work together in full force in 2023. The heartfelt thanks of the entire boot Düsseldorf team go to all exhibitors, associations and partners who have stood by our side to date. I am sure that together we will head for a successful boot 2023, after hopefully surviving the crisis.”
NRW Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann said: “We have to continue to be very careful at the moment. The omicron variant is spreading in a dynamic we don’t yet know. But we have to act today.
“That is why we had already banned large football matches and sporting events with spectators in the current Covid Protection Ordinance. It is only logical that no large public fairs with many visitors from different regions and countries from all over the world take place in January either.”
Düsseldorf’s Lord Mayor Dr Stephan Keller said: “Of course we had hoped that the pandemic situation in January would allow the boot to be held under strict hygiene conditions. But in the end, it is only consistent to do without large public fairs such as boot in order to contain the spread of the omicron variant.
“Even before the country’s ban, I agreed with the management of Messe Düsseldorf not to take an unjustifiable risk and to cancel boot if necessary.”