The Roman Catholic archbishop of Panama, José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, is cutting the ribbon for today’s opening of the inaugural Panama International Boat Show and offering a blessing.
“We haven’t had that happen in the history of our shows, so that’s exciting,” said Dane Graziano, COO and senior vice president of Show Management, producer of the new Panama show, as well as high-profile shows such as the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and the Palm Beach International Boat Show, to name a few. Show Management and Soundings Trade Only are owned by Active Interest Media.
“We’re all very, very pleased with the partnership of Flamenco Marina in getting the show off the ground this year,” Graziano told Trade Only. “I think it is going to surprise everyone, the way we do things, as far as the quality of the show since it’s the first year. The displays are beautiful and all the dealers are really impressed with the way the show is coming together.”
One of those dealers was Intrepid Boats sales vice president Christian Gonzales.
“I have to tell you, it’s a lot better organized than I thought it would be,” Gonzales told Trade Only. “The displays that are going up are impressive, and Show Management seems to be doing a great job organizing this. There are more exhibitors than I thought.”
Gonzales says Intrepid wanted to get in on the ground floor of the show because the company is expanding its presence in Central and South America. “Those markets are starting to pick up steam, so we thought, what better way to do so than at this first Panama show?”
Andrew Doole, who is also a senior vice president and COO at Show Management, said he had gotten good feedback from exhibitors. “I think they’re surprised and happy to see the way the tents are set up. We brought them from the United States, and they’re floored and carpeted.”
All of the exhibit space on land and in tents is sold out, Doole said.
“We’ve also got a good number of boats in the water,” Doole told Trade Only. “So we’re happy and proud of this show. We’ve got boats in the water that range from 30 to a couple hundred feet. So it’s a good cross-section, and a lot of sportfish boats.”
The show’s site, the Flamenco Marina, used to consist of three islands, Gonzales said. “It used to be a U.S. base that would check boats coming in and out of the Panama Canal,” Gonzales said he was told Thursday upon arrival. “The islands were completely filled in, and that’s basically how they united the three islands together and made this beautiful marina here.”
Doole said a brand-new addition was built onto the marina specifically for the show.
“They only just completed it, so this is its inauguration,” Doole said. “It looks great. We’ve got a great backdrop of the city and mountains in the background, so it’s a very pretty show site.”
The locals also have been excited about the show, according to Gonzales, who said he heard buzz at the airport and in cabs about the new event.
On Thursday night, there was a VIP kickoff event to help generate more chatter, for which Show Management expected a couple hundred attendees.
“I think Panamanians are excited we’re producing a show in their country,” Doole said. “Sales activity here seems to be growing, which is obviously great. Some of the boats we were expecting to come to the show were sold prior to the opening, so they’re being replaced with others. We’re excited to see what happens during the show, with buyers coming in from Venezuela and Colombia and Panama.”
Read more about the first Panama International Boat Show in Monday’s Trade Only Today and the August issue of Soundings Trade Only.