Interest is high at St. Petersburg show

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Exhibitors are reporting a strong opening to the 33rd annual St. Petersburg (Fla.) Power and Sailboat Show, which runs through Sunday.

Thursday morning, the opening day of the show, Scott Roberton, from MarineMax, had a steady stream of people coming to see the new 72-foot motoryacht from Hatteras.

"People know that these are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities," Roberton told The St. Petersburg Times newspaper. "People who have been waiting and watching are finally getting the courage up to start buying. I am really optimistic about the way the market is going."

Dane Graziano, COO of show producer Show Management, who has been working with the St. Petersburg show for 25 years, said consumers will be pleasantly surprised by what they find on the docks at this year's event.

"This show is the cat's meow," he told the newspaper. "You won't find anything else like it on the west coast of Florida. How else do you think we have survived all these years?"

Although the luxury market may be the most obvious beneficiary of an improved economic climate, the sale of more affordable boats is also starting to pick up, Graziano said.

"While the market for boats 60 feet or longer seems to have rebounded faster, we are starting to see manufacturers and consumers getting reacquainted with boats that cost less than $75,000," he added. "This is a really good sign that the boating industry in general is coming back."

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