Tourism & Cruises

Miami boat shows report increases in attendance, sales

Boating enthusiasts explore the Progressive Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail, at the Miami Beach Convention Center on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.
Boating enthusiasts explore the Progressive Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail, at the Miami Beach Convention Center on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. Miami Herald file

Attendance was up slightly at Miami’s two Presidents’ Day weekend boat shows, where many exhibitors reported a bump in sales.

The 74th annual Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail Miami, which ran Feb. 12-16 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, the Sea Isle Marina and Miamarina at Bayside, reported attendance of 96,000 visitors from around the globe. That figure represented a 1 percent increase over 2014.

Visitors to the Miami Beach Convention Center found a total of about 700 craft on display — significantly more than the 550 shown in 2014. Another 700 boats were on display at the other locations. Fishing and boating products and gadgets are a popular feature of the show.

“Early reports from exhibitors in every market segment indicate the show generated strong sales — in many cases, record sales — helping to kick-start momentum for the recreational boating industry in 2015,” said show manager Cathy Rick-Joule in a news release.

Some exhibitors said the 2015 show was their best ever. “This year exceeded our expectations,” said Lana Lohe of CNB Lagoon, according to a release. “We sold 16 boats and have two more under contract.”

Sean Halley of Boston Whaler also reported strong sales to boat show officials. “We eclipsed our targeted sales number, and those are signed deals!” he said via a release. “We still have many more to work — the show has been fantastic.”

Next year, the show will move to the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin on Virginia Key in anticipation of the Miami Beach Convention Center’s renovation.

“The City of Miami is investing $16 million to rejuvenate the Park and prepare it for the 2016 boat show,” Rick-Joule said in a news release. “Additionally, [the show manager] will build customized docks and erect state-of-the-art structures to accommodate land exhibitors.” The Strictly Sail Miami segment will remain at Miamarina at Bayside.

At the 27th annual Yacht and Brokerage Show near the Fontainebleau on Miami Beach’s Collins Avenue, management also reported an increase in 2015 attendance and displays.

The show, which ran from Feb. 12-16, brought out several hundred exhibitors. During the five-day event, boats stretched 1.2 million square feet over a mile-long strip of Indian Creek Waterway from 41st to 51st streets.

Many exhibitors also reported “significant sales,” that have continued through this week, said CEO of Show Management Efrem Zimbalist III.

The number of show attendees and the total number of boats on display went up by 2 percent, Zimbalist said. The number of yachts on display in the 105-foot to 150-foot segment increased by 20 percent.

“As an industry, we believe that we will continue to see a rise in attendance and new exhibitor displays as the economy continues to improve and luxury condominium projects with marinas are currently in development and pre-sold in South Florida,” Zimbalist said in the statement.

Bob Denison, president of Denison Yacht Sales, said his company sold 12 boats this year, up from nine last year.

“Miami Boat Show is awesome because it’s truly an international boat show,” he said. “The entire weekend, we were having conversations with people that were from not only different parts of the U.S., but people from Central and South America, definitely Europeans coming into the show. It’s very much a global city, which makes an event like this more like an international one.”

Denison said the company sells boats at more than 20 shows a year, but the Miami Beach boat show is unique.

“The weather was absolutely amazing every single day,” he said. “There was a very positive mood on the docks.”

Justin Joyner, sales manager at Beneteau Powerboats, said his company also saw more sales this year.

“Our brand is starting to be very well recognized here,” he said.

Beneteau Powerboats exhibits at more than 70 boat shows throughout the year and has been showing at the Miami Beach event for about 5 years, Joyner said.

“It’s our Super Bowl,” he said. “It was the best show we’ve ever had.”