Study supports expansion of Palm Beach show

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The Palm Beach International Boat Show adds $76.7 million to the economy in South Florida, a new study says, and marine industry leaders believe the event could in time rival the Fort Lauderdale show, which starts Thursday.

The study was commissioned by the Palm Beach County chapter of the Marine Industries Association. The association released it Tuesday and the trade group has plans to increase support for expanding the show. The largest show of support would be to dredge the Intracoastal Waterway to a depth that would allow superyachts to attend.

The study “demonstrates we’re far more than a festival of fancy boats for people to look at,” said Jim Bronstien, owner of Marine Business Advisors and board member of the Tourist Development Council, told the Palm Beach Post.

Larger yachts — megayachts and superyachts that start at 80 feet and go to more than 200 — are a growing trend in the industry and there is a demand for them in Palm Beach County. Bringing them in would have a “massive” effect, said Mike Anthiel, the association’s executive director.

The marine industry has a $2 billion impact on the county annually, the association says. And the boat show is one of the biggest events, with 900 boats this year — 425 in the water — and 464 total exhibitors.

Participants displayed more than $1.2 billion and sold $125 million worth of boats and marine products at the show in March. Fort Lauderdale’s show expects to have more than double that on display, starting Thursday.

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