Florida boat sales are bouncing back

ATLANTA – Florida’s boating industry is rebounding well from the just-ended Atlantic hurricane season, which saw four storms strike the state, according to a Reuters story published yesterday.

“Boat sales are coming back everyday,” David Ray, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of Florida, told the news service. “Until November, it was kind of slow.”

Ray said the economic impact of hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne in August and September would be in the billions of dollars and believes total marine losses in Florida could top $5 billion once the costs from destroyed marinas, canceled boat shows and scuttled sales are tallied.

“It’s probably going to take 2 years to rebuild some of the marinas,” Ray said. “We’ve never seen a year like this and I hope we never do again.”

National Marine Manufacturers President Thom Dammrich said he does not expect the Florida damage to douse overall U.S. boat sales, which rose in 2003 after falling 6 percent in both 2001 and 2002, Reuters reported.

Dammrich told the news agency that 2004 was a good year for the boating industry, with sales of boats and related products up an estimated 10 percent, despite the hurricane-related lull. He expects sales to rise again next year, even in Florida.

“As we move into 2005, things will get back to normal,” Dammrich predicted.

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