IBEX wraps up, FLIBS gets underway

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The attention of much of the marine industry switched from Miami to Fort Lauderdale today as the 45th Annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show began on an optimistic note.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle presented show director Kaye Pearson with a proclamation during opening festivities this morning, declaring the week of Oct. 25 “Official Megayacht Week” in the city and organizers reported that advance ticket sales for the event are up 12 percent from last year.

“I feel very confident that this year’s numbers are going to be very strong,” Pearson said in a news conference this morning. “We have a number of factors going for us.”

Pearson said he believed “a significant number” of Europeans would be attending the show, due in large part to the strength of the Euro versus the dollar at present.

Pearson also believes recent events will lead people to seek a means of escape from the news of the day – citing the war in Iraq and this season of political mud-slinging as examples – and that the Fort Lauderdale show will help people find that release.

Every one of the top-20 yacht builders in the world will be represented at the show, which also hosts 106 superyacht builders.

The show itself is spread out over 3 million square feet of space, with 1.6 million of that devoted to exhibitors, organizers reported. There are also 2,500 people who will be working at the show, not including the exhibitors.

Naugle lauded the show’s economic impact on the city and the state in his remarks this morning.

IBEX 2004 wraps up

Today’s opening in Fort Lauderdale comes less than 24 hours after the 2004 International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition & Conference successfully concluded in Miami.

Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which co-produces the show with Professional Boatbuilder magazine, said yesterday he was pleased with this year’s IBEX.

“The feedback I’ve gotten has just been terrific,” Dammrich said. “I don’t know what the numbers are, but I’m sure [attendance] was up.”

Dammrich’s assessment was shared by many of the exhibitors.

“I think attendance is up from last year,” said Ned Trigg, OEM director of Environmental Systems for Dometic Corp. “It is also the same quality [of attendee] if not better.”

“We’ve been doing IBEX for four or five years and it gets better every year,” said David Bledsoe of Paulson Computer Systems. “It’s a good show.”

Although attendance figures were not yet available, IBEX co-director Carl Cramer said the response he had gotten had also been very encouraging.

“The sentiment throughout the exhibit hall, seminar rooms, outdoor demos, everyplace, has been beyond positive,” Cramer said.

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