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PALM BEACH: Biggest show in five years opens today

This will be the largest Palm Beach International Boat Show since 2008, with healthy increases in the number of boats and the size of the display area, Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III, CEO of Active Interest Media and Show Management, producer of the four-day event, said Thursday.

AIM also owns Soundings Trade Only.

"Needless to say, we are thrilled with the size of the show this year. It is the biggest show since 2008, which is significant because that is when things started to go down," Zimbalist told about 75 guests at the boat show media briefing and breakfast.

The amount of land display area is up 22 percent, to 89,000 square feet this year, compared with 73,000 square feet in 2012. "We filled every available square inch and went scrounging for more space and still had to turn away a few exhibitors," Zimbalist said. "The show has been growing multi-dimensionally. We have some of the biggest boats we have ever had." The largest is the 223-foot Kismet.

More manufacturers of boats and marine products are also attending, Zimbalist said. For instance, Viking Yachts representatives will be at the HMY Yacht Sales display, he said.

Zimbalist offered statistics during the breakfast to illustrate the show's strength and growth.

• New boats in the water are up 31 percent from 2012. There are 244 new boats this year, compared with 186 in 2012.

• Of that increase, 44 boats are under 60 feet, nine are 60 to 80 feet and five are larger than 80 feet.

• The number of brokerage boats in the water is up 25 percent; there are 299 in 2013, versus 239 in 2012.

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio; Mike Antheil, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County; and Daniel F. Martell, president and CEO of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, also spoke.

"The marine industry has an annual direct economic impact of $1.35 billion in Palm Beach County alone and results in 20,000 jobs a year, which is really quite amazing," Muoio said.

— Chris Landry

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