The 56th Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show starts Thursday, drawing a larger and more international mix of exhibitors than ever — and it will feature the largest boat that has ever been displayed at the five-day event.
The show comprises seven venues, and this year’s production will feature $4 billion in products, including 1,500 boats. The vast array of boats and gear is spread over 3 million square feet.
The 312-foot Lürssen yacht Kismet, the largest ever presented at FLIBS, is represented by Moran Yacht and Ship, Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, president of Show Management, which produces the show, told Trade Only Today. The Marine Industries Association of South Florida owns the show.
Active Interest Media owns Show Management and Trade Only.
“We probably have more superyachts on the face dock than ever, without question,” said Andrew Doole, senior vice president and COO of Show Management. “I think the shipyards, from small to those building superyachts, everybody’s looking toward North America as the most stable, hottest market, without question.”
Also on display will be Rock.It, a 198-foot Feadship, the second-biggest boat at the show.
This year’s show, which includes all-new branding, a new user-friendly website, new VIP packages and several additional events and attractions, is drawing international builders in droves.
European markets remain challenged and a strong U.S. dollar gives overseas builders a pricing advantage in the more robust American market. Show organizers say that not only are new companies exhibiting, but they are also bringing more and bigger boats.
Domestically things are hopping, as well, as boatbuilders, engine makers and accessories manufacturers are harvesting the fruits of reinvigorated R&D budgets — many of which took a back seat to survival in the first few post-recession years.
Now new products, engines, accessories, electronics and models are scheduled to debut either globally or to the American market at this year’s show. And the market has been clear: Consumers are clamoring for new products.
“There are two things going on that are making the show especially strong,” Zimbalist said. “One is that the U.S. economy is coming back. The other thing is everybody around the globe wants to reach the U.S. buyer. There are not only a lot of buyers out there, but a lot of sellers. We’re seeing a lot of new exhibitors — and not just new to us, but new to the industry — introducing new brands, models, lines and introducing them at Fort Lauderdale. Part of that is the strength of the economy, part is the strength of the dollar, and part of it is just the fact that this is where you want to be to have your products seen.”