Feb 26, 2017

MIBS 1This is the second year that the Miami International Boat Show has been held at the Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key beside the Rickenbacker Causeway. The previous show location on South Beach was no longer available as of 2015 when the Miami Convention Centre closed for major renovations and the National Marina Manufacturers Association (NMMA) who own the show were forced to relocate. It was moved to Virginia Key for the first time in 2016.

Thom Dammrich, NMMA President and his team worked with the city of Miami to resurrect the Miami Marine Stadium which had been out of use for many years. This is the second year the show was held in the facility and the NMMA has continued to make significant investments into the show and the infrastructure around it.

The Strictly Sail Show continued at Bayside as in the past.

On Friday, February 17, Thom Dammrich addressed members of the marine industry at the Industry Breakfast and he began with a few impressive metrics.

The show now has a far larger number of boats in the water. There are now 3.47 miles of docks to walk, packed with a wide variety of new boats from small fishing vessels to luxurious yachts.

The smaller boats are mainly indoors along with many other equipment and engine displays and to accommodate the crowds in air-conditioned comfort, the NMMA has created the largest temporary tent installation in North America. This includes 8 miles of carpet, 10 miles of steel framing to make the tent structures, and to set up the show, they handled 1,500,000 pounds of freight. Also, there were 96 shuttle buses and 24 water taxis being used to bring people to the show. To make sure everybody was safe and secure at the show, there were 91 first responders on site. Overall, the Virginia Key facility became the largest temporary marina in the world.

Dammrich continued by saying that attendance was up 8% on the first day of the show over the 2016 show and on that first day, they parked 3,131 cars and counted 13,006 people travelling the shuttle buses to and from the show with many more taking water taxis.

Commenting on the broader industry in America, Thom Dammrich indicated that the marine industry in America grew 6% in units during 2016 and was ahead 4% in dollar volume. They projected 2017 is going to be the same or even better. By segments, there has been double-digit growth in pontoon boats, wake boats and single digit growth on almost all the other segments. There has been four consecutive years of double-digit growth in the towboat segment. Outboards have grown by somewhere between seven and 10% year-over-year.

There are some important reasons why things are going well. There is good GDP growth and the Fed is expecting continued growth ahead. The next interest rate hike by the “Fed”is expected this March. There is an expectation of 2 to 3 years of continued growth in consumer spending ahead in the United States. Recreational vehicle sales are also very strong and overall, so Dammrichexpects 2 to 3 years of good times for our industry.

On the other hand, he points out that the average age of American boaters is 55 and that we need younger people and more kids to get involved in boating.

He made an important point that I had not heard before – Thom notes that the “barrier to entry” in some cases is a lack of transparency around boating costs.

His idea is that it would benefit the industry if we were more upfront about what the total ownership and operating costs are and what people can anticipate if they get involved in boating.

Also, held in Miami on the same dates but in a different location is the Yachts Miami Show where the focus is on larger yachts up to super yacht sizes. This show was located in the marina facility that stretches along Collins Avenue in the Miami Beach area.

For boating enthusiasts, you could argue that Miami is either a boating mecca or a muddle. With two shows going on at the same time, the exhibitors are often stretched between the two locations because they are building both boats and yachts. Travel from one site to the other can be as much as an hour and a half during high traffic times of the day. It's also difficult for members of the press or other people who do business in the marine industry to get from point to point but what does it mean to boaters to have two shows going on at once?

Well there's nothing like selection and there's probably no place on earth that shows you more boats in more sizes with more accessories then Miami does at this time of year. The whole city is buzzing with boats.
Compared to seeing the new boats at the Toronto or Vancouver boat showshere at home, it might seem tempting to head down to Miami especially given that the weather during the show was clear, mostly sunny and up to 80°F. It's a great place to be in February.

On the other hand, when you see the boats in Canada, it's mostly indoors in the comfort of heated buildings, close to home and where your marina dealer is ready to sit down and talk. Plus, you're not faced with expensive air travel, hotels and the unfavourable exchange rate.

So in conclusion, Miami is impressive indeed but pretty much of what you want to see is all here at home, including all the newest products and boat models. But…isn’t it nice to have choice?

 

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