THIS year’s Poole Harbour Boat Show has been called off because of the coronavirus.

Harbour bosses said they were “regretfully” cancelling the 2020 show after last year’s drew more than 30,000 people to the port.

The event is described as the biggest free-to-attend boat show on the south coast.

A statement said: “Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC) regretfully announce the cancellation of the Poole Harbour Boat Show 2020.

“The immensely difficult decision has been taken due to the ongoing and rapid spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus), which has been labelled a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO).”

The show was due to take place from June 12-14, with the historic SS Shieldhall to be moored at Poole Quay for the duration of the three-day event.

The harbour commissioners’ statement said: “Coronavirus has created considerable uncertainty and the long-term impact of the virus remains unknown.

Pressures on the resources of all businesses across the marine industry and beyond are high and planning for the coming months has become very difficult.

“The decision to cancel the show has not been taken lightly, however in order to provide clarity for everyone involved, the difficult decision has been made.

“With over 30,000 show visitors, Poole Harbour Commissioners also has a huge responsibility to public safety which they take very seriously.”

Jim Stewart, chief executive of Poole Harbour Commissioners, said: “The boat show has been a huge success over the past five years. However, the current coronavirus threat has raised many concerns.

“Deferring a decision to go ahead could potentially add to existing uncertainty and therefore PHC has decided that it would be prudent to cancel now and focus on our key harbour and port roles and responsibilities. We know that many attendees and exhibitors will be disappointed. However, the Poole Harbour Boat Show will return in 2021.”

The show has been an annual fixture for the past five years.

It features live music, demonstrations, taster sessions and a free evening fireworks display, as well as its displays of yachts, motor cruisers, marine equipment, water sports gear and clothes.

The next show is due to run from June 11-13, 2021.