Miss the other boat shows?

Here’s your last shot

By Martin Lenkowsky

The Palm Beach International Boat Show 2018 has gotten bigger—literally—says Andrew Doole, vice president and general manager of Informa, which produces and manages the show. “We expanded the water portion of the show on the south side,” he says.

Informa, a British company, purchased Show Management, the show’s former producer, last year. Doole says the company has invested more than $8 million worth in boat show equipment. “We’ll keep it growing with better equipment,” he says.

The show, now in its 33rd year, will be held March 22-25 in downtown West Palm Beach along Flagler Drive near Clematis Street. It’s the last boat show of the season in South Florida.

This one, considered among the top five nationally, will include more than $1.2 billion worth of boats, yachts and boating accessories from the world’s leading marine manufacturers, making it a truly international show. Boats will range from 8-foot inflatables to 150-feet-plus super yachts. In between, there are power boats, center consoles, bow riders and personal watercraft.

The show will include used yachts, tents full of the latest electronics and accessories, seminars and fishing clinics for children. There also will be exotic cars, live music and family fun.

It also boasts international flavor. “We continue to attract more foreign shipyards from Europe,” Doole says. “We’re proud and happy European yacht manufacturers are taking notice of the Palm Beach County market.” He says the show grows yearly, with an increasing number of 50- to 150-foot vessels featured either through dealers or directly.

Organizers say the Palm Beach location makes it one of the most visitor-friendly shows to date. “It’s a perfect family destination where people can enjoy lunch and dinner at many area restaurants. You can leave for lunch with your wristband and return to the show,” Doole says. “There’s easy parking downtown, especially on weekends.”

Informa has invested in other improvements, says Mary Bender, its marketing director, including new electrical wiring for safety and efficiency. It also has invested in new docks. “They’re a lot sleeker and cleaner. The old ones were wood, which warped,” she says. “The new docks should make for a better experience for the attendees.”

This year’s VIP Experience, a higher-priced ticket, also will be different; it previously was geared toward people in the marine industry. It will include an open bar, lunch and music. “And we’re working on a happy hour with tapas, a perfect ambience,” Bender says.

Bender says Informa also is working with local parking garages to include approximately 1,000 parking spaces for attendees. Show organizers are hoping for at least 50,000 attendees. No data is available for the expected local economic impact, but Bender says a study will be done for this year’s show. ♦

At a Glance

• When: March 22-25. Thursday, noon-7 p.m.; Friday and

Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

• Where: Downtown West Palm Beach, Flagler Drive near Clematis Street.

• Cost: Adults, $24; children 6-15, $14; under 6, free.

VIP Experience tickets are $125 daily, or $200 for two-day passes.

• Tickets and info: pbboatshow.com

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