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Fort Lauderdale show docks pulse with energy, buyers

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Yachting is back in vogue. At least that was the vibe on the docks yesterday as the 55th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show opened.

Captains, crew and brokers alike sounded typical optimism on opening day, but this year, it was backed up with filled shoe baskets, occupied aft decks and crowded docks.

And not only was opening day busy, but brokers and captains reported the day before the show was busy. One captain said viewers from last year sought out his boat last week while it was still in a marina to have another look. So by opening day yesterday, he was welcoming back repeat visitors.

“I love this day, it’s kicks off our season,” Mayor Jack Seiler told assembled press in the hour before the show opened yesterday. “Other people use Thanksgiving to Easter to define the season, but we here in Ft. Lauderdale kick off the season with the boat show.”

This year, the show includes more than 1,000 exhibitors from more than 30 countries and features 800 boats in the water, including several world debuts and American launches. The largest boat in the show is the 196-foot Benetti M/Y Swan.

And while the five-day show brings in a half a million dollars in economic impact to Ft. Lauderdale — about the same as a Super Bowl — it’s the remaining 360 days a year that keeps the city’s industry vibrant.

Despite an economic recession that lingered over the past four years, a new economic impact study has revealed that the marine industry in Ft. Lauderdale’s Broward County has grown nearly 20 percent in that time to achieve an economic impact of more than $8.8 billion. And it’s 110,000 marine-related jobs is 20 percent more than it was in 2010.

As a region, all of South Florida has grown to have an economic impact of $11.5 billion (an increase of almost 30 percent since 2010) and employ more than 136,000 people (about 27 percent more).

The study was commissioned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, owners of the boat show, and was released yesterday.

Lucy Chabot Reed is editor of Triton Today; lucy@the-triton.com.

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About Lucy Chabot Reed

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher and founding editor of The Triton.

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