This year’s 55th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show® (FLIBS), which took place from October 30 to November 3 in the glamorous Florida yacht holiday location – Fort Lauderdale, was marked by five days of nice weather as well as enthusiastic crowds eager to see what is new in the world of boating. Over 1,000 exhibitors showcased nearly 1,500 boats of all sizes, marine electronics, accessories and water toys of all kinds across more than 3 million square feet of exhibit space, covering seven locations in the ‘Marine Hub of the World’.
Show organizers are pleased to announce that this was a banner year for the world’s largest in-water boat show. With the addition of Pier 66 Marina as new show location, the show’s footprint was bigger than ever before. Overall attendance was up six percent compared to 2013 and the highest it has been since 2006. The heaviest attendance at this year’s show was seen on opening day, Thursday, Oct. 30, and on Saturday, Nov. 1. The number of in-water boats was up more than five percent and was the largest display since 2008. Exhibitor participation was up by three percent compared to the 2013 show.
“This year’s show was a clear indication that the American yachting market has turned and both buyers and sellers are confident and back out on the docks,” said Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, CEO of Show Management, the company that manages and produces the show. “We’ve heard of many new and brokerage sales and plenty of new and return charter activity. The overall sentiment is that this was a very successful year for the show.”
The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which is owned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF), attracts an international audience of marine enthusiasts to experience the single best showcase of marine products and accessories in the world.
“We have at least three solid deals that emerged from the show, and a handful of other potentials. Mother Nature cooperated as well, making the entire boat show an even more pleasurable experience for our clients,” said Bob Saxon, president of International Yacht Collection, which had a display at the Bahia Mar Marina show location. “Charter was very active and as we all know, chartering often represents the entry portal into buying or building a yacht.”
The show is known for its astounding number of yachts as well as an array of exciting displays including exotic automobiles, a private jet fuselage, helicopters, personal submarines and a huge selection of the latest yacht and water toys. For those not in the market to buy, the show offered plenty of fun-in-the-sun, including its world-famous floating cocktail lounges, live musical entertainment, water sport demonstrations at the all new AquaZone by Nautical Ventures, and exciting fishing and boating seminars for adults and children of all ages by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) and the nonprofit Hook the Future.
The Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center show location enjoyed great crowds and enthusiastic interest from buyers of boats in the popular under 50-foot category.
“The atmosphere was very upbeat with both the vendors and consumers,” said Boatsetter CEO Andy Sturner, whose company was exhibiting at the show for the first time.
During the show’s International News Conference on opening day, findings from a recent economic impact study by Thomas J. Murray & Associates were released which revealed a consistent turn-around in the South Florida tri-county region of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach and Florida’s marine industry statewide over four years spanning fiscal years 2010 through 2014.
The overall increase in marine related sales in Broward County was 21.9 percent, 30.5 percent in Miami-Dade County, and 101.2 percent in Palm Beach County over the period studied. Taken as a region, the tri-county marine industry’s sales grew an estimated 36.3 percent between 2010 and 2014. Statewide, gross marine sales grew by 31.3 percent.
During the most recently completed fiscal year, 2014, Broward County accounted for nearly $1.5 billion in sales for this sector, Dade County contributed $332,397,708 and Palm Beach County reported $586,317,556. Combined as a region, the tri-county area represented 51 percent ($2.383 billion) of Florida’s gross marine sales during the 2014 fiscal year. For fiscal year 2014, gross retail sales of boat and motor products equaled $4.675 billion statewide, an increase of 31.3 percent since 2010.
The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show® is owned and sponsored by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, managed and produced by Show Management and sponsored by Gosling’s Rum, Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), Budweiser, BoatShowHotels.com, Palm Harbor Marina, Smallwoods Yachtwear, South Florida Sun Sentinel, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Volvo Penta, Audi South Florida, The Blue Wild, GEICO, Forgotten Soldiers Outreach, Carefree Boat Club, Fairline Florida, Sirius XM Marine, GoCycle, SIMRAD, AIM Marine Group, Yachts International Magazine and BoatQuest.com.