Weak dollar aiding yacht makers

MIAMI – The weakened U.S. dollar, which has plunged 20 percent against the euro since the beginning of last year to hit an all-time low last week and is down about 4 percent since the beginning of September, is helping sales of American yachts overseas, the Miami Herald reported in a story yesterday.

Well-heeled Europeans, Canadians, Latin Americans and Middle Easterners, whose currencies are stronger and economies often faring better than the U.S., are taking advantage of attractive prices.

For example, Broward Marine’s $17.8 million yacht – which earlier this year sold for about 13.5 million euros – is now selling for about 12.5 million euros.

”I haven’t changed the price,” Tom Lewis, CEO of Broward Marine, told the newspaper. “It just doesn’t take as many euros today.”

Lewis has several European clients and brokers flying in for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show that runs Thursday through Monday. Show managers say e-ticket sales suggest a big European crowd will attend.

”We’re selling a lot more product in Europe, Australia and the Pacific,” Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association told the Herald. “The export market is what’s keeping a lot of manufacturers in good shape.”

New American yachts aren’t the only vessels selling well. Many foreigners are scouring U.S. marinas for used yachts, especially foreign-built vessels that have the electrical systems and other design details they’re used to.

Keith Maling, a Miami yacht broker with Ocean Style, told the Herald that foreign clients “are coming in droves. They’re keeping our industry afloat. I’m sure you’re going to see a lot [of international shoppers] at the Fort Lauderdale boat show.”
Despite the boost expected from overseas, most industry insiders are cautious about the prospects for the Fort Lauderdale show, the Miami Herald reported.

”I’m not overwhelmingly optimistic. I don’t think it’s going to be one of the best shows,” George Jousma, president of Allied Richard Bertram Marine Group, a Fort Lauderdale-based yacht dealership, told the newspaper.

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