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Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show finds renewed optimism, sunny skies


Five days of ocean breezes and sunshine set a spirited tone over the 54th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this month. 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.

“Exhibitors have reported a very strong show,” said Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, CEO of Show Management, the company that manages and produces the show, and a sister company of Yachts International under the AIM Media Marine Group. “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 covering the latest and greatest yachts at the show, Yachts International once again hosted the VIP Pavilion, which featured art exhibits, fine jewelry, a restaurant and bar, and VIP lounges for guests to relax and conduct business. Pavilion sponsors included Marsh Private Client Services, Over Yonder Cay, Davis-Siegel Interiors, Mayan Islands Resort, East Coast Jewelry, Faro Blanco Marina Resort and Miami MEGA Yacht Club. The magazine and Show Management were sponsors of the International Superyacht Society’s annual awards gala. Yachts International was also a sponsor of the International SeaKeepers Society’s Founders Dinner, and on the final day of the show, the magazine hosted a Captains Breakfast with presenting sponsors AIG and Marshall Islands Registry.

"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 shared very positive feedback 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."

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 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."