MIAMI BEACH - The 70th annual Miami International Boat Show opened this morning on a high note, with expectations that the industry will see improvements in 2011 and that the dark days are behind it.
"We have been here before and we have come out of it," Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, reminded the group gathered for the State of the Industry breakfast prior to the start of the show. Although the industry might not see huge growth this year, we should see a "fairly strong resurgence," he added.
Sales of new boats dropped during the recession, but participation in boating has remained high. More than 66 million people were involved in boating last year.
"We have a huge installed base that really is one of the great strengths of our industry," Dammrich said. Boating, he added, is a more-than-$30 billion industry.
Dammrich listed 10 reasons he believes sales will grow in 2011:
- Improving consumer confidence
- Less saving by consumers and more spending
- Auto sales are rising
- RV sales are growing
- GDP is growing
- Dealer inventories are at some of their lowest levels in history
- The used-boat market is drying up and prices are rising on the boats that remain
- Late-model used boats are not available
- New models have innovations not available in the used market
Dammrich said retail sales should be up 10 to 15 percent this year.
"The worst for boating is behind us," he added. "We have momentum on our side."
More than 2,000 exhibitors are at the Miami show this year, showcasing more than 2,500 boats, according to the NMMA. Along with Strictly Sail, the show runs through Monday.
— Beth Rosenberg