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Admission will be free at Fort Myers boat show

The Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association is taking a number of steps to help generate more sales for exhibitors at its Fort Myers Spring Boat Show, scheduled for March 12-15.

For starters, the association is offering free admission to the public. The association also cut expenses wherever possible, except advertising, and added a used-boat section (open only to exhibitors or association members) as an additional revenue source and advertising hook.

“Since show profits are taking the same hit as boat sales anyway, why not make the best of it?,” show manager John Good said in a statement.

He said the free admission approach “was a tremendous success” at the association’s Charlotte County Boat Show two weeks ago. Dealers there reported better-than-expected sales, and it was “a tremendous boon on the accessory side,” said Good.

“We know that simply increasing the crowds will not solve the challenges of the industry, but we definitely saw an increase in sales,” said Tom Hansen, president of the association, in a statement. “Every dealer I spoke with had stronger sales at this year’s Charlotte show than in 2008. And there is no doubt that just seeing so many people out looking at boats and talking to salesmen was a big boost to everyone’s attitude.

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