The National Marine Manufacturers Association said attendance was up 4 percent to 100,279 at the Progressive Miami International Boat Show in its first year at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin on Virginia Key.
The NMMA said exhibitors reported strong sales, with many reporting increases of 20 percent to 400 percent at the five-day show, which ended on Monday. Initial data indicate that the 2016 event will likely meet or exceed its $597 million economic impact from previous years.
“The Miami International Boat Show was a resounding success for exhibitors, attendees and South Florida. Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin proved to be the ideal location for the best boat show we have hosted to date,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement.
“Whether it was the gorgeous weather, exhibitors reporting significant sales, attendees enjoying the new on-water features or the more than 100,000 people from around the world who brought tourism dollars to Miami-Dade — this year’s show was the start of what we hope will be a long, successful run at Marine Stadium Park and Basin.”
The NMMA, which organized the show, said its comprehensive transportation plan proved effective, with traffic moving smoothly along the Rickenbacker Causeway for residents and visitors heading into and out of Key Biscayne. Emergency vehicles were also able to traverse the causeway without issue.
The Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation reported an average of 4,000 additional cars on the Rickenbacker Causeway on each day of the event, compared with the same period in 2015 and in line with the 4,000 prepaid boat show parking spaces on Virginia Key.
The NMMA said Miamians also embraced the park-and-ride model, with an estimated 80 percent of boat show visitors parking at designated offsite locations and arriving via shuttle bus or water taxi. Although long waits were reported for water taxis and shuttle buses, improvements were made each day to keep them flowing more smoothly, making it clear what steps the boat show must take to significantly reduce or eliminate long wait times for next year.
The NMMA said traffic data collected by Miami-Dade County show that except for opening day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the average travel time from South Bayshore Drive and South 26th Road to MAST Academy was seven to 10 minutes, just slightly longer than the normal six minutes and 50 seconds.
Only for the three-hour period at the show open on Thursday did travel time average 21 minutes, which was reduced to seven to 10 minutes after signage adjustments were made. Key Biscayne local traffic was free-flowing throughout the five-day event.
“Because this was our inaugural event at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin, we kept a close watch on delays and issues as they arose, and made adjustments each day of the show — adding more shuttle buses and reallocating water taxis to improve transportation daily,” said Cathy Rick-Joule, director of the show. “Using the lessons learned this first year we know what we need to do to improve the consumer experience for years to come.”