Organizers of the International BoatBuilders' Exposition and Conference reported an estimated 31 percent drop in attendance this year compared to 2008.
Actual attendance figures were not immediately available.
Despite the drop, organizers said many exhibitors were pleased with the quality of attendees at the three-day event, which ran Oct. 12-14 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
"IBEX continues to be the largest gathering in the boating industry, so it was no surprise that exhibitors and attendees felt there was good value and good business being done," said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, co-producer of IBEX. "Feedback from the show floor suggests boat and accessory production is picking back up and orders were being placed, as well as an enthusiasm for the new, more cost effective Louisville location for IBEX 2010."
IBEX moves to Louisville, Ky., next year and will be held there for at least three years. Next year's show, set for Sept. 28-30 at the Kentucky Exposition Center, also will feature a component from the defunct Marine Accessories Aftermarket Trade Show.
In addition to a drop in attendees, exhibitor numbers were down, with around 500 at the show.
"Everyone that matters in the boatbuilding industry was at IBEX. We met with many customers and, as usual, had that one meeting with the right boatbuilder that made exhibiting all worthwhile. IBEX always delivers," said exhibitor Ron Bailey, vice president of sales and marketing for Turning Point Propellers, in a statement.
"From the time the show opened until its conclusion, there were encouraging signs from the exhibitor and the attendee, as boatbuilders with new orders were buying products," said Carl Cramer, IBEX co-director and publisher of Professional BoatBuilder magazine. "The technical sessions were among the best we've produced, and the response to the Louisville move next year was overwhelmingly positive."
IBEX is owned and produced by Professional BoatBuilder magazine and the NMMA.