Citing concern over Coronavirus, most boat dealers back out of Tulsa Boat Show for 2021 and will instead host the 2021 Tulsa “Virtual” Boat Show from January 28th through February 14th.

More than forty popular brands of new boats will not be represented at the Tulsa Boat, Sport & Travel Show after nine major dealers, including two of the largest historic exhibitors, announced they will not be participating in the in-person event, choosing instead to host a “Tulsa Virtual Boat Show” online January 28-February 14.

All members of the Northeast Oklahoma Boat Dealers Association have opted for online “safe boat shopping” in lieu of participation in the Expo Square event, including several of the most popular Grand Lake boat dealers.

Dealers who have opted for the online event instead of the traditional Expo Square show include Bill’s Marine, Cross Timbers, Grand Lake Boat Sales, Indian Hills Marina, MarineMax, Nichols Marina Monkey Island, Nichols Marine Tulsa, Sundown Marine, and Ugly John’s Custom Boats.

“The safety of our customers and our employees is paramount,” said Chris Byrd, President of the Northeast Oklahoma Boat Dealers Association. “As Covid-19 cases continue to increase, we determined that it would be irresponsible and unwise to intentionally attempt to attract thousands of our customers into a crowded indoor environment.”

“In a pandemic atmosphere of virtual classrooms, mandatory masks, social distancing, overloaded hospitals, canceled sporting events, discouraged travel, and increasing Coronavirus cases, we determined that this is the perfect time to expand popular online shopping to the boat buying experience. The vast majority of in-person boat shows across the United States have been canceled for 2021, and we think that is a logical decision,” he said. “We are excited to bring ‘virtual shopping’ to the Oklahoma boating industry,” he said.

Boat shoppers are encouraged to log on to twenty-four hours a day from January 28 through February 14 to enjoy virtual tours of more than forty brands of new boats which will be available for viewing.

It is the first time an online boat show has been held in Oklahoma, but Byrd pointed out that online shopping is a growing trend.

“The vast majority of our leads and subsequent sales are coming from online inquiries already,” he said. “The entire shopping and buying process is changing – not just for boats, but for everything. The marketplace is changing. The Coronavirus just brought it to the forefront of our attention. We may look back on this decision in five or ten years and wonder why we didn’t
do it sooner.”

The dealers were unanimous in their wishes for the best possible outcome for the Tulsa Show, in which each of them has participated for decades.

They were also unanimous, however, in their concern for the health and safety of their employees and customers – and in their excitement about a new shopping experience for boat buying customers.

By logging on to shoppers will be able to view details of dozens of brands and models of boats simply by clicking on either the dealer of their choice or the boat brand of their choosing.

Visitors to the site will even have the opportunity to register for a free weekend at Shangri-La Resort including a room, golf, and a spa day.

“The ‘Virtual Tulsa Boat Show’ will offer every opportunity to examine a variety of boats that our customers normally have at the in-person show. The only things missing will be the parking problems, the admission charge, the crowds, and the fifteen-dollar beer,” Byrd laughed.

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