Miami show opens with message of hope

Published online: Feb 13, 2009 News Beth Rosenberg
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MIAMI BEACH - The 68th annual Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail Miami opened this morning, and organizers are optimistic that a buying crowd will turn out and give a needed boost to the industry.

"People use this show as a barometer of the industry and a barometer of the consumer," said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, who spoke with Soundings Trade Only minutes before the show opened. "People are optimistic."

There are 2,115 exhibitors at this year's event, down about 75 from last year.

Dammrich said there's a lot of pent-up demand for boats, and people will be eager to buy once they feel more secure about the economy. As the stimulus package winds its way through government channels and is ultimately signed by President Obama - possible in the next few days - that may help ease some concerns.

"As people feel better, they'll spend," Dammrich said.

In terms of attendance, Dammrich said it's realistic to say any show that's down by 15 percent or less is having a good year. So far this season, NMMA's boat shows have seen attendance declines ranging from 2 percent up to more than 40 percent down.

However, he added, it's the serious buyers who are coming out, which may translate into more sales, as exhibitors can spend more time with people who plan to buy, rather than those just casually looking around to see what's out there.

Last year, 130,496 people attended the Miami show.

This year's show runs through Monday at the Miami Beach Convention Center, the Sea Isle Marina & Yachting Center, and the Miamarina at Bayside.

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