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Fort Lauderdale show sees increase in exhibitors

FORT LAUDERDALE — Signs are looking good for a successful Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III said this morning at the show's opening-day breakfast.

Exhibitor numbers were up 10 percent as of Wednesday, said Zimbalist, chairman and CEO of Active Interest Media, the parent company of Show Management, which produces FLIBS for the Marine Industries Association of South Florida. An increase of 7 percent had been projected.

Advance ticket sales were up 9 percent from last year, and hotel bookings through the show’s travel agent were up 25 to 30 percent.

And Hurricane Rina looks as if it is no longer a threat to South Florida, he said. “We ought to have a great opening day; the weather looks good.”

All of this bodes well, Zimbalist said.

Zimbalist cited some innovations in the 52nd Lauderdale show — for example, the 16,000-square-foot Superyacht Builders Association pavilion, which allows superyachts and their manufacturers’ booths to be located together, and PassageMaker magazine’s TrawlerPort. (PassageMaker, Soundings Trade Only and Soundings magazines were acquired by AIM in July.)

Zimbalist said these efforts create “villages” within the show to draw like-minded enthusiasts. He also noted the use of Android and iPad-iPod apps to help consumers navigate the show. “It makes it a lot easier for people to find what they want,” he said.

Zimbalist said five boats at the show this year are larger than 200 feet; there had never been more than two of that size before. “I think things are looking pretty good.”

— Jim Flannery