Local merchants displayed vessels ranging from 10-foot fishing boats to luxury yachts at the annual Tacoma Dome Boat Show that ended April 2. Industry representatives see a bright future for boating in the Puget Sound region.

“We’re seeing an increase in the more expensive fishing boats,” said Brandon Hoff, general manager at Picks Cove Marine Center of Tacoma, which specializes in fishing boats.

He says the average cost of boats he sells is $12,000 to $15,000 more than five years ago.

Bill Caillier, co-owner of B & J Marine Manifolds and Parts of University Place, estimates that 15 percent of his annual sales are derived from the show.

“A lot of them come just for parts,” he says of show attendees.

Caillier feels that boating would be a more popular activity if more boat launch sites existed. He says Point Defiance has the only boat launch facility available to the public in Tacoma.

“The economy is good,” observes Dwight Gabbert, associate broker at Gig Harbor Yacht Sales. “The yacht is a luxury item, so when the economy is good they have money to buy toys.”

Gabbert sees more people purchasing yachts now compared with a half decade ago. Many people are trading in 30-foot boats for 40-foot models. “I see younger and younger people looking at bigger and bigger boats.”

Gabbert points to weekend excursions to areas such as the San Juan Islands as a sign of the popularity of yachting.

“It’s an economy within itself,” Gabbert says, noting the many jobs created by marinas on Puget Sound.”

Dave Hagler, associate broker at Sunset Yacht Sales of Gig Harbor, has mixed views on the boating economy. “Overall the outlook is good,” he says.