FLIBS results appear to reflect market conditions

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – With new boat sales down about 25 percent for the first half of 2008 – before the credit crunch hit the U.S. economy – it’s no surprise that many Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show exhibitors are reporting a decline in sales at the show, compared to last year.

Intrepid Powerboats, for example, sold about half the boats this year that it did last year, a company executive told the Miami Herald.

What has been a surprise to some is that FLIBS attendance has been close to – if not on par with – last year.

“It shows the magnitude of the event that even in this economy, we were able to meet our expectations,” Dane Graziano, COO of Show Management, told the Miami Herald.

The strength in attendance was due, at least in part, to a larger international presence at the show. Show Management, which produces FLIBS, launched a targeted marketing effort this year aimed at Russia, the Middle East and South America, according to the South Florida Business Journal. That, combined with new marinas in Central and South America and a favorable exchange rate until most recently, helped spur a 15-percent increase in international attendance, organizers told the journal.

The segment of the market that appears to remain healthy consists of boats 80 feet and above and their suppliers.

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