Shows bring feelgood factor back to industry

The first two major international trade shows of the year have buoyed the tackle industry and have been seen as a sign of future growth in the sport.

Despite longstanding concerns over the number of exhibitors and visitors alike, the returning EFTTEX 2023 in Budapest in June is said to have generated a positive atmosphere and encouraged strong networking.

Hot on its heels was ICAST 2023, staged once again in Orlando, Florida, which was hailed as a rousing success with increased exhibitors and more international visitors than ever.

It has raised hopes that these signal continued growth in recreational fishing, despite concerns about a flat market in many territories.

In Budapest, HungExpo welcomed more than 1,600 visitors over the three-day event, including 457 retailers and 686 wholesalers along with 53 agents.

The NEXT Group’s Sara Ballotta, a regular exhibitor over many years, said: “EFTTEX was a great success because I was able to meet many of my customers that I hadn’t seen for many years due to the Covid lockdown.  We also made a lot of new contacts. Participating in EFTTEX in Budapest filled me with new energy and a lot of optimism. So I consider the result, on balance, to be absolutely positive.”

Nigel May from UK tackle accessory firm Dinsmores added: “We met most of the people involved in our export network at this show, and we get to see the customers face to face, which for a business like ours is very cost-effective.”

Over in Florida the following month, ICAST attracted 13,346 attendees from every US state not to mention 80 other countries including Singapore, Peru, Japan and Australia, with 633 exhibitors setting up booths.
Blake Swango, vice-president of trade show and membership at the American Sportfishing Association, with organises the event, revealed: “This is one of the most impressive shows we have had since I’ve been here. The booth spaces are bigger, better and more impressive each year and I think this is probably the most beautiful show that I have worked on.”
It also grew by courting the fly fishing industry with its dedicated section which included the ICAST Fly Shop outfitters concept, not to mention the FLYCASTing pond where buyers could try out the latest rods, reels and lines.

The end of September will also see the American Fly Fishing Trade Association’s brand-new Confluence event in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, bringing together the industry for an event incorporating advice and information, networking and new gear.

AFFTA’S executive director, Lucas Bissett, said: “How we do business, how we stay connected and how we see the future of fly fishing is an ongoing conversation among our members. The Confluence gives us the opportunity to bring all segments of the industry together to have that discussion and showcase all the brands that make fly fishing a great industry.”

Meanwhile, one of the oldest-established international shows, ChinaFish, will return in February 2024, after several years’ break forced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Registration is open and you can expect around 500 exhibitors and roughly 1,500 international buyers from 80 countries to descend on the New China International Exhibition Center in Beijing.