Genoa Boat Show Cannes Yachting Festival


10 mins read

Yachting industry is clearly showing its first signs of recovery. Double-figure growth is palpable as is the general mood of insiders who, of course, looked forward of going out of crisis and going back to selling seriously.

Cannes Yachting Festival
Cannes Yachting Festival with its two locations

If we esclude President Toti who, regardless of his political hue, has always supported the sector, the Genoa Boat Show even saw the participation of “visiting politicians” who, like bees to honey, joined the event to celebrate the new-found productivity and popularity of the field.

Further evidence of the current recovery comes from the new-found competition between the two major European boat shows – the Cannes Yachting Festival and the Genoa International Boat Show – that vie against each other for the title of the Europe’s most important in-water boat show. That’s a matter of no little significance, especially for the thousands of exhibitors who undergo considerable logistic and economic efforts to join them every year. When we consider that the same exhibitors have to attend the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (the world’s largest boat show) and Dusseldorf Boat Show (the Europe’s most important out-of-water yachting event) in the following months, we can clearly understand the true meaning of this head to head between Cannes Yachting Festival and Genoa Boat Show.

Salone Nautico Genova
The 57th Genoa International Boat Show

The International Yachting Media – of which our magazine is part – was present at both events, for the entire duration of exhibitions, always supported by numerical data in order to give readers the most objective view possible.

For this purpose, we have to give you a first very important piece of information: the Cannes Yachting Festival actually includes two completely different boat shows that take place at Vieux Port and Port Pierre Canto respectively. The first is dedicated to yachting novelties while the second one is generally reserved for recreational yachts ranging from 22 to 65 metres in length. Moreover, Port Pierre Canto hosts a very particular marketplace dedicated to yacht sale and rental.

This information is very important to compare apples with apples because the data we’ve received from Cannes are inevitably aggregated. In other words, when organizers say that boats on display are of length up to 65 metres, they refer to Port Pierre Canto. Now that we know this, our analysis will take it into account.

Let us now come to objective data. In the following table, we’ve compared the figures that both boat shows have communicated to us.

Cannes Yachting Festival Genoa International Boat Show Delta %
Visitors 50,000 148,228 98,228 296%
Accredited Journalists 580 927 347 160%
Exhibitors 528 884 356 167%
Number of boats 600 1100 500 183%
Boat Length
from 2.1 to 65 m from 1.8 to 38 m
Ground exhibiting area 100,000
On-water exhibiting area 100,000
Total exhibiting area 300,000 200,000 -100,000 67%


Our table clearly shows the boom achieved by the Genoa Boat Show, with a number of visitors which was almost three times greater than the Cannes Yachting Festival’s one. Figures are even confirmed by the last two days of the boat show – Monday and Tuesday – where really many visitors attended the event. On the other hand, Cannes Yachting Festival suffered at least two bad weather days and, maybe, a too high audience density in relation to the exhibiting surface available. Walkways in the quays reserved for motor and sailing yachts were really narrow, almost illegal…

Press attention

Here we have a paradox. Since Cannes Yachting Festival predated the Genoa Boat Show, it should have benefited from premières, especially this year that the event has celebrated its 40th anniversary. What happened instead was that many yachting journalists preferred to get Genoa instead of Cannes.

Exhibitors/ Boats

Despite of their general preference for Cannes, exhibitors finally went to Genoa. Figures, in fact, show that both the number of exhibitors and boats were almost twice greater than the Cannes Yachting Festival’s one. This parametre probably affected the number of visitors, too, as Genoa provided its visitors with a wider spectrum of choices.

Boat length/ Audience profiling

As you can see from the table, Cannes Yachting Festival outdoes the Genoa Boat Shows in terms of boat length as it hosted a larger amount of yachts from 20 to 30 metres – some even reached a length of 65 metres – and, consequently, more visitors interested into this type of boats.  No difference, on the contrary, in terms of inflatable boats, probably more “out-of-water” in Cannes than in Genoa but equally present at both events. The same applies to sailboats and powerboats up to 20 metres with the only difference that French boatyards were inevitably more numerous in Cannes than in Genoa, where the proportion is reversed in favour of Italian shipyards. Things are completely different in the world of inboard and outboard manufacturers that have chosen Genoa as the main location where to exhibit their products for some years.

As for yachts over 25 metres, we have no doubts.. the real protagonist is the Monaco Yacht Show.


Exhibiting surface

Superficie vieux port di cannes
Calculation of the exhibiting surface at Viex Port, Cannes

Here we have a real dilemma. According to Cannes Yachting Festival organizers, exhibiting spaces stretched over 300,000 square metres. However, even though visitors were just a third of the audience that attended the Genoa Boat Show, it was very difficult for visitors to get around. In Genoa, where visitors were three times more numerous than in Cannes, the only jammed area was the passage between Sailing World and pavilion B3.

A comparison with FLIBS (Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show) – the universally recognized world’s largest boat show – raises further serious doubts. The American event, in fact, boasts a total extension of almost 300,000 square metres distributed in 8 different locations (278,000 square metres in 2016).

Superficie Port Pierre Canto
Calculation of the exhibiting surface at Port Pierre Canto

We visited both FLIBS and Cannes Yachting Festival and what we can say is that we can hardly believe that Cannes Yachting Festival is even larger than FLIBS and, consequently, the world’s largest boat show.

Stimulated by this dilemma, we have wanted to find out more. So, we have calculated the approximate exhibiting surfaces of both boat shows on Google Maps (anybody can do this). According to our calculations, the Vieux Port of Cannes measures 147,674 square metres that, added to the exhibiting area of Port Pierre Canto (about 31,052 square metres), are 178,726 square metres in total.

In a spirit of fairness, we have made the same calculation for the Genoa International Boat Show. As you can see in the picture below, exhibiting surface is the same than the declared one, that is 199,457 square metres.

Calcolo della superficie Salone Nautico di GenovaCalcolo della superficie Salone Nautico di Genova
Calculation of the exhibiting surface at Genoa International Boat Show

Our astonishment is therefore very understandable: in Cannes, there is a discrepancy of over 120,000 square metres! This, of course, causes confusion about the real European and world size leadership.

We’ll ask Cannes Yachting Festival organizers to send us the criteria they used to calculate their exhibiting spaces. If we were wrong, of course, we will host the new data on this page. At that point, we can unveil which, between Cannes Yachting Festival and Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, is actually the world’s largest boat show.



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