Fort Lauderdale show reports largest crowds since 2006

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Many of the exhibitors at the 54th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show had similar observations — the weather was good for a change and there seemed to be more people.

Five days of sunshine speaks for itself, but as it turns out there were a lot more people. Organizers reported Wednesday that gate attendance for the Oct. 31-Nov. 4 show was up 28 percent from the prior year and the highest since the 2006 show.

More important, the buying mood also was apparently brighter, as numerous exhibitors said they had their best sales figures in years.

"Exhibitors have reported a very strong show," Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III, CEO of Show Management, the company that manages and produces the show, said in a statement. "The commitment made by the Marine Industries 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."

One notable category of growth came from a 15.9 percent increase in the number of boats under 80 feet on display, a very important market sector. This year saw the largest number of boats under 80 feet ever on display at the show, according to Show Management.

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