It’s already being billed by the organiser as a vote of confidence for the industry – if the exhibitor and visitor numbers are anything to go at this year’s Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS), which drew to a close in Amsterdam yesterday afternoon, then it would be hard to argue with that verdict.

Final visitor attendance totalled *19,617, up from 19,232 last year, and just shy of the milestone 20,000 that show Theo Lingmont, director of international exhibitions for Amsterdam RAI, predicted was within reach in his opening to the show celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. International attendance was up 2 per cent on last year, whilst exhbitors numbered 1,318, only marginally short of its record breaking 1,331 in 2011.

According to the RAI, an unprecedented 43 per cent of exhibitors had already pre-booked stand space for 2013 before this edition had drawn to a close.

“The atmosphere has been brilliant, with high attendance levels reinforcing the fact that the concept of METS stands firm,” said METS domain manager Irene Dros. “There could have been no greater vote of confidence for our 25th anniversary event.”

The show opened on Tuesday with a keynote speech by Bavaria CEO Jens Ludmann followed by the DAME Awards, with Torqeedo’s new Deep Blue electric outboard picking up the overall prize. The halls filled quickly from the off with the opening two days generating a definite buzz. The final day felt quieter, reflecting perhaps the inevitable trend of visitors trimming their overheads wherever possible, making whistlestop tours of halls, cutting vists to two rather than three days.

The vast majority of those canvassed by IBI were happy with the business being done, though visitor traffic in the Marina and Yard pavilion was patchy, and the organiser still hasn’t quite cracked the conundrum that is the Elicium, home this year to the Construction Material Pavilion. Though visitor flow was better than last year – the addition of seminars there helped – the room still feels too much a corridor. Perhaps moving the DAME winners display to the rear of the space could encourage more visitors to make the diversion further in.

Given the tough market conditions however, such gripes remain minor concerns. METS has again proved itself to be a lynchpin for the industry. Confidence is in short supply. The RAI and METS 2012 have done their bit to give it a much needed boost.

METS 2013 will be held 19-20-21 November 2013 in Amsterdam RAI Convention Centre.

*METS visitor and exhibitor statistics are calculated in accordance with the rules of the UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and are audited by an independent accountant.