Boat show growth

The Marine Industries Association of South Florida likes to say the economic impact of the Greater Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is like having a Super Bowl each year. I might add after watching the New England Patriots play the Los Angeles Rams that it’s a lot more exciting as well.

This issue’s cover story on Andrew Doole and his role as president of U.S. boat shows for Informa Global Exhibitions shows there is plenty coming to improve the quality of the Fort Lauderdale show as well as shows in Miami and West Palm Beach. The Palm Beach International Boat Show gets a deeper dive in this issue since it’s happening in March and is the last boat show of the season in South Florida.

What’s heartening is that Informa has already spent $8 million improving the quality of the shows in South Florida since buying them from Show Management, but there are plenty of changes ahead.

The epicenter of the Fort Lauderdale show is the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach, which is planning new apartment buildings, a new hotel, restaurants, stores and marine space. The project will enhance the show in the long run, but Doole says Informa is prepared to cope with any construction disruption when the shows are happening. Informa’s financial strength is cited as a reason the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, which owns the show, was able to lock down a 30-year lease at Bahia Mar.

The boat show and tourism in general also will benefit from the expansion of the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, which is expected to be complete in 2023. The 600,000-square-foot center will add 525,000 square feet of exhibition space, a ballroom that can seat 5,000, and an 800-room hotel.

Informa also made some smart decisions about the Miami Yacht Show. While the lineup of yachts in previous shows along Collins Avenue was impressive, it was logistically challenging. This year, the show was moved to the bayfront in downtown Miami. That put it closer to the Miami International Boat Show on Virginia Key. Both shows deserve credit for bundling tickets and transportation to make it easier to get between shows.

Our cover story also shows how Informa is a giant in business-to-business exhibitions globally. Having Doole lead the company’s U.S. boat shows will provide insight into what South Florida has to offer for its nonboat shows. With the revamped Miami Beach Convention Center and plans to expand the Fort Lauderdale convention center, the region is well poised to capitalize on landing more conventions. There also are plans for a convention center at the Marriott Marquis Miami Worldcenter, which would have 1,700 rooms and over 600,000 square feet of meeting, exhibition and event space.

Conventions and boat shows are great ways for visitors to get introduced to South Florida.

With our favorable weather, tax climate and business infrastructure, South Florida is poised for continued growth. Bring your boat or yacht on down.

Kevin Gale
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