By Adam Quandt
From humble beginnings in 1941 as a tent with 50 boats on display, to over 700 contracted exhibitors, an additional 300 working/support dealers and roughly 1,000 total companies participating, the Miami International Boat Show — produced by the National Marine Manufacturers Association — continuously provides one of the largest stages for the recreational boating industry to shine every President’s Day weekend.
The 2020 show is setting up to be no exception.
“It’s truly a world-class boating event,” show director Larry Berryman said. “Think of it as the Super Bowl of the boating world.”
Now in its 79th year, the Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show will once again take over Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin on Virginia Key, Feb. 13-17, 2020.
While the show has called Virginia Key home for the last four years, new components each year keep the show fresh and attendance growing.
“New products, new manufacturers, new attendees, all breathe new life into the show year after year,” Berryman said. “Making our home the marine stadium park and basin has allowed us to continue to expand at one location for an in-water display.”
Berryman said that the show’s current location really offers one beautiful campus that really allows the industry to showcase anything and everything that goes along with boating.
In boat brands alone, around 105 different builders are slated to be on display during 2020’s five-day show. On top of that will be a variety of engine builders, electronics providers and everything in between. Some of which will be unveiling their newest products on the market to the world.
“MIBS offers the perfect opportunity for manufacturers to showcase everything that’s new and everything the boating industry has to offer,” Berryman said. “This show is constantly evolving and so much focus at the show turns to innovation and new products.”
Engine builders continue to note that outboards now reign supreme at shows like Miami. For example, Mercury Marine saw its presence at the 2019 Miami International Boat Show increase by almost 200 outboard engines.
Berryman said that this year will bring an influx in the power catamaran segment of the show. “As people discover the versatility of these large powerboats — especially in this south Florida market — we’ve seen more and more of them on display at the show,” he added.
Berryman added that for many manufacturers and dealers, MIBS serves as an indicator and driver for the entire year.
An independent study of the show showed just over an $850 million statewide economic impact over the five-day show. Florida exhibitors alone, sell roughly $350 million in marine products at the show annually.
On average, the show sees roughly 100,000 visitors pass through its gates each year, which Berryman said is a healthy mix between veteran boaters and boat owners to first time prospective buyers and everything in between.
The recent study of the Miami show indicated that around 36,000 people traveled from out of state to attend the boat show, including many traveling from other countries.
In terms of what’s new 2020, Berryman said there are always new elements being added to the show.
Attendees will have several opportunities for on-the-water training with licensed captains, covering a variety of curriculum.
“We will have opportunities for all, including a junior boaters program this year for participants 13-17 years old,” Berryman said. “On-the-water education is a crucial component to this robust nature of this industry.”
Berryman said that the 2020 show is also continuing on the successes of last year’s conservation village within the show. The village offers a spotlight on various companies and organizations with ties to conservation and environmentally supportive practices and initiatives.
The NMMA will once again announce the winners of the Miami Innovation Awards, Alan J. Freedman Memorial Leadership Award and the Marine Industry CSI Awards during the show’s Innovation Breakfast on Feb. 14, 2020.
From new products to conservation efforts, and highlighting industry awards the annual Miami show takes the recreational boating industry and elevates it into an international spotlight.
“From attendees to exhibitors, if you want to be a part of anything boating, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be in Miami over President’s Day weekend,” Berryman concluded.