If there’s one word to describe this year’s Boat Show, it’s ENERGY. You can see it, hear it and feel it at all five show locations, up and down the docks, wherever you go. Everybody at the show, buyers and sellers alike, arrived this year charged up and ready to do business.
The numbers aren’t out yet, but the show opened on a positive note with a 5 percent jump in registered vendors over last year’s number. Some were new to the show, others were returning after a year or two’s absence. All were ready to capture pent up demand after two sluggish years that hit the marine industry hard. Everyone here is ready for the light at the end of the tunnel.
The world’s largest in-water boat show takes place in five locations that no where else in the world can match. Over 1,200 boats plus the full spectrum of marine products worth a staggering $3 billion are divided among the Bahia Mar Yachting Center, Fort Lauderdale Hilton Marina, Sails Marina, Las Olas Marina and Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.
This year’s parking and transportation system has been so efficiently managed that getting from one location to the next is part of the fun. Free trolleys and shuttles move people effortlessly up and down A1A/Seabreeze Boulevard, while Water Taxis and VIP tenders delight passengers with quick trips along Fort Lauderdale’s mansion-lined Intracoastal Waterway. By land or by sea, with the Atlantic Ocean or inland waterway always in sight, getting around the show has been a blast.
It’s always an awesome experience to get on board a mega-yacht priced at $50 million, but the Convention Center floor, packed with magnificent sport fishing boats up to 40’, is a thrill in its own right. You can’t help gazing up in amazement at those fabulously shiny hulls, each with its own sleek design and vibrant color. These are the boats that appeal to a wide range of buyers, and by all accounts many of those buyers are doing serious shopping at this year’s show.
We turned for some unscientific, man-on-the-street research to the food concessionaires at the Convention Center, who told us refreshment sales were significantly better than the last couple of years. People are shopping, eating and having fun. There are lots of families with kids in tow shopping for boats and all sorts of water toys. This year’s expanded schedule of fishing and boating clinics for adults and kids of all ages has been an added draw.
The show has been bustling with people in motion since the moment it opened at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. Everywhere you look, people are having fun. There’s real energy in the air, a harbinger of good news to come.
Posted by Jane Grant on Closing Day