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Palm Beach show reports attendance boost

The 29th annual Palm Beach International Boat Show ended with overall gate attendance 3.1 percent higher than in 2013, up 15 percent on the first two days of the March 20-23 show.

The attendance dropped 10 percent on Day 3, potentially due to morning rain showers, but was 7 percent higher on the final day. While the number of exhibitors remained constant from 2013, the number of in-water boats was up 6 percent compared to last year, according to organizers.

"We are pleased to see the growth in smaller boats as a good indication that the market is broadening to many who were shut out by the financial crisis," Show Management CEO Efrem Zimbalist III said in a statement. (Active Interest Media owns Show Management and Trade Only Today.) “This year's show was the largest in the show's history in terms of the number of boats on display and its overall footprint, and we are well positioned for future growth."

The show features approximately $1.3 billion worth of yachts, boats and accessories, including hundreds of boats ranging from small inflatables and center consoles to fishing boats and superyachts as large as 200 feet.

"Year after year the show continues to grow, a great sign for our industry and an indicator of the strength of the boating lifestyle in and around Palm Beach County," said Ray Graziotto, president of the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, owners of the Palm Beach International Boat Show. "The show is among the top three boat shows in the country, with last year's show generating more than $92 million in economic output throughout the state, including $76 million in the tri-county area of Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties.”

Some exhibitors use the venue for more than just selling product.

"The retail market at this show is historically strong and we wanted to capture everyone's attention," said Ward's Marine Electric president Kristina Herbert, whose daily entertainment included bands, an ice-carving station, stilt walkers and art activities for the kids. "This show gives us the opportunity to really connect with the community and show the fun side of our company while mingling with the crowds."

The show was sponsored by Lincoln, Budweiser, Gosling's Rum, Yachts International Magazine, Palm Beach Post, Palm Harbor Marina, BoatQuest.com, Smallwoods Yachtwear, International Game Fish Association School of Sportfishing, Hook The Future, Geico, Monte Carlo Vodka and the Palm Beach Daily News.

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