MIAMI — The 75th Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show opened this morning at its brand-new venue — the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin — with National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich assuring the industry that the site will be the show’s permanent home.
“We need you to help us put our best foot forward the next five days. Evangelize to the rest of the industry what a great venue this is and what a great show this is and how we need everyone to participate going forward,” Dammrich told the roughly 250 people gathered at the Rusty Pelican on Virginia Key this morning for the industry breakfast.
The boating industry is in a fifth year of expansion and the NMMA projects that 243,000 boats were sold in 2015. “With 6 percent growth next year, we’ll be up to 260,000. And we think we’ve got more growth in store on top of that,” Dammrich said. “Strong sales, higher consumer confidence, lower gas prices — I think we’re poised for a very strong year in 2016. We’re also working to promote more export opportunities.”
Dammrich also mentioned major issues that the NMMA is working on with the BoatPAC, which was recently merged with Marine Retailers Association of the Americas’ boatPAC, including the Renewable Fuel Standard and ethanol.
“When a candidate who supports the complete repeal of ethanol can win the Iowa caucus, I think we’ve got some real traction,” Dammrich said.
The groups, in partnership with the Center for Coastal Conservation, also helped get the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the legislation that governs offshore saltwater fish catch limits and quotas.
Dammrich said boating continues to grow “as one of America’s most popular pastimes.”
“Americans spent 3 billion hours on the water and took 300 million boating trips in 2012,” Dammrich said. “They have a real passion for the sport. There are 88 million people boating each year, and 95 percent of boats sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S.”
He went on to say that 97 percent of U.S. boat manufacturers are small family businesses.
“We are here to stay,” Dammrich reiterated as he wrapped up his comments. “We are confident this will be the permanent home for the Miami International Boat Show.”
“We have built you the ultimate boat show,” said Cathy Rick-Joule, the NMMA’s vice president of boat shows, whose retirement was announced.