Zimbalist: Fort Lauderdale show should be stronger

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Reading the tea leaves, which isn't always easy, Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III, president and CEO of Show Management, says this year's Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show should be stronger than the 2009 show.

The sale of Irwin Jacobs' Genmar brands, and the reorgnaization of other boatbuilders that filed for Chapter 11 bankrupcy protection, has opened the way for these companies to return to the show, Zimbalist said Wednesday evening at an update on the Oct. 28-Nov.1 show - the 51st edition - at Morton's The Steakhouse in Fort Lauderdale.

Yacht brokerage is "leading the way" in the marine industry's recovery, with more realistic asking prices, which are generating higher sales volume, he said. And, as the number of shows has shrunk because of the recession, more exhibitors are looking at Fort Lauderdale as a key sales venue, he said.

Zimbalist said advance ticket sales into early August were "a little above" last year at this time, as were sales of exhibitor space. He said Show Management is "aggressively marketing" the show in 16 countries, with a focus this year on Russia and Latin America. Show Management also is partnering with a caompany called Native Energy in a green project to offset the carbon footprint the show leaves because of the electricity it consumes.

As the Federal Reserve this week reported a slowdown in the pace of the recovery - job creation and output - Zimbalist acknowledged that the economy is still lackluster. "We could use a little more tail wind from the economy," he said. "I think everybody could."

- Jim Flannery

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