by Jeff Zbar
Updated 11 months ago
It's no stretch to connect greater Fort Lauderdale's more than 150 miles of navigable waterways with a thriving marine and boating industry. Some say the marine services industry tops $10 billion in annual revenues countywide.
"[The boat show's] impact is equal to more than one Super Bowl. ... This is their biggest week of the year." — Andrew Doole , COO, Show Management Inc.
The marine industry has its mark along the Intracoastal and inland waterways. With 19 covered buildings and accommodations for yachts up to 170 feet in length, the Lauderdale Marine Center is host to numerous independent contractors and approved craftsmen for electronics, fiberglass, woodwork and welding. Harbourtowne Marina is managed by Westrec, the world's largest owner/operator of marinas and marine-related businesses. The Marina Mile, named for a stretch of State Road 84 long home to the sector, boasts more than 40 marine businesses.
The International Yacht Collection, a brokerage company, has approximately half a billion dollars in listings and 40 superyachts in its central charter fleet. From its Fort Lauderdale offices, the International Superyacht
Society represents individuals and companies involved in the design, construction, maintenance, repair and operation of large yachts.
The Intracoastal Waterway hosts more than 1,000 boats during the annual boat show.
Top aerial photo by Forest Johnson; boat photo courtesy the Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"The economy has stabilized, and people are boating again," Vidueira says. "They are considering boating as a viable alternative for their entertainment dollar."
Nothing's more indicative of the region's role as the "yachting capital of the world" than the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Over five days in the fall, thousands of pleasure craft and motor yachts — 1,000 afloat on display — converge on the convention center, the Bahia Mar and elsewhere, says Andrew Doole, COO of Show Management Inc., the Fort Lauderdale-based promoter of the 52-year-old event.
"It's a reflection of the marketplace," he says. "Its impact is equal to more than one Super Bowl. It's not just about the marinas, boat yards and suppliers, but the hotels, sign printers, taxis, florists, car rentals, restaurants. This is their biggest week of the year."