Five days of ocean breezes and sunshine set a spirited tone over the 54th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show from Oct. 31st to Nov. 4th.
Show organizers reported that gate attendance for the entire show was up 28 percent from the prior year and the highest since the 2006 show, and that exhibit space was the largest it has ever been, with returning exhibitors expanding their show presence over 2012.
Another notable category of growth came from a 15.9 percent increase in the number of boats under 80 feet on display, a very important market sector. This year saw the largest number of boats under 80 feet ever on display at the show.
“Exhibitors have reported a very strong show,” said Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, CEO of Show Management, the company that manages and produces the show. “The commitment made by the Marine Industry Association of South Florida and Show Management to bring enhancements to our exhibitors and guests, coupled with fantastic weather and confident buyers, made for a very successful weekend.”
In addition to the in-water expansion north of the Las Olas Marina show location, the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center saw considerable growth this year with the addition of a new 90,000-square-foot outdoor Sailfish Pavilion that featured displays and exhibits, a pond for daily fishing demonstrations, and new food and beverage offerings.
“The boat show is a barometer of the local and national economy, and this year we saw a strong increase in sales, an increase in attendees, and 10-to-15 percent increase in food and beverage consumption over the past few years,” said Convention Center General Manager Mark Gatley. “Exhibitors had very positive feedback to share about their selling experience, as well as the new food and beverage options at the Sailfish Pavilion, and they were telling us that they didn’t want the show to end.”
Sheri Daye, owner and producer of The Blue Wild, a dive and marine art event company, added, “There was a lot of excitement in the air this year and all the exhibitors and artists in the Blue Wild section of the boat show at the Convention Center commented on it. The diving and boating seminars were well attended, exhibitor sales were strong, and the marine artists enjoyed interacting with the crowd.”
In addition to the new Sailfish Pavilion, several other enhancements added to the positive energy that flowed throughout show this year. The SeaFair, a 228-foot custom yacht, featured art exhibits, fine jewelry, a restaurant and bar, and VIP lounges for guests to relax and conduct business. Themed villages and new navigational tools including improved signage, useful onsite maps, and upgrades to the show’s smartphone app, MyBoatShow, made getting around the show easier than ever before. Additionally, many of the exhibition tents received new names, including the Yacht Builders and Yachting pavilions, which added to the show’s enhanced navigation features.
Pietro Goglia of the Italian Trade Commission, representing 12 exhibitors in the Yachting Pavilion, reported a strong show from all participating companies.
“Our exhibitors are tremendously enthusiastic about their experience and results from this year’s show,” Goglia said. “Interest from the American market in our Italian-made products and services was strong, and many of us returned to Italy with leads and contracts.”
Italy was one of more than 20 countries represented at this year’s show. The largest in-water boat show in the world, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show attracts an international audience of more than 100,000 marine professionals and enthusiasts, spanning more than 3 million square feet of space over six locations.
“The Fort Lauderdale show gave us the opportunity to showcase, to both the industry and the consumer, the diversity of the Cheoy Lee brand, from the newest 87′ Alpha Express to the traditional 151′ expedition yacht,” said Gene Weeks, project manager, Express Yacht Division, Cheoy Lee Shipyards. “It was our best boat show to date.”
“This was a very successful boat show for our group,” said James Henderson, president and CEO of Ferretti Group America, “as we had the largest number of new yachts on display — more than 20 — for an Italian manufacturer, and we placed nine yachts under contract during the show.”