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Miami International Boat Show opens

The 69th annual Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail Miami opened Thursday and organizers are hopeful boat buyers will be out in full force.

"I think we're expecting a good show. I think we're expecting more people than last year," Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, told Soundings Trade Only. "Because it's a little bit smaller than last year, it's going to seem like it's much more crowded."

Around 2,000 exhibitors are on hand for this year's show, down around 200 from 2009. Many of the NMMA's shows have been smaller this year, but that's not necessarily bad - smaller footprints mean more dense crowds, Dammrich said.

"That just creates a level of energy at the show that we haven't seen in a few years," he said. "I think most dealers are reporting good sales at the shows - not everybody, but certainly there seems to be a lot of activity in smaller boats, and we're getting a lot of feedback that dealers are seeing the first-time boat buyer again that they haven't seen for three or four years."

Last year, 96,736 people attended the Miami show, down 26 percent from 2008. The NMMA is expecting more than 100,000 attendees at this year's event, which runs through Monday at the Miami Beach Convention Center and the Sea Isle Marina & Yachting Center.

The 22nd annual Yacht & Brokerage Show runs concurrently with the Miami show.

Both shows run through Monday, Feb 15.

— Beth Rosenberg