With sunny skies above, and temperatures hovering near 80 degrees, South Florida was the place to be this Presidents’ Day weekend, as world-class events filled the streets and waterways: the Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail, the Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show and the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. And with the economy cruising ahead, and consumer confidence rising, more tourists and locals are opened their eyes – and their wallets – this weekend, a huge sign that the recovery is steaming ahead.
“The traffic on the docks is much better from the last few years, which is a pretty good indicator’’ said Bob Saxon, president of Fort Lauderdale-based International Yacht Collection, which brought nine yachts to Miami Beach, including a $24.9 million, 161-foot Trinity. “The stock market is raging, and the word is that the economy is coming back, and that is helping us. If we can move two or three units at this boat show, it would mark a good show for us.’’
Overall, more than 100,000 attendees from South Florida and around the world toured the boat shows and displays which included boat shipping companies and multiple perspective boat sellers.
For the boating, yachting and sailing industry, the four-day shows this past weekend were among the most important events in the United States, organizers say. And this year, with the economy no longer listing, the mood was decidedly upbeat.
The boat show venues in Miami Beach were packed, and despite the headache of traffic for locals, the weather was warm, attendees were in high spirits, and vendors were optimistic of sales.
J Craft, a Swedish luxury power boat manufacturer, chose this year’s Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show, to make its U.S. debut. Celebrating its 23rd year, the show featured more than 500 new and pre-owned vessels, valued at more than $1 billion.
“We’ve had very good interest from Americans in Europe so far, and we’re selling boats,’’ said J Craft’s Johan Attvik, as he stood on the dock on Collins Avenue beside the jaw-droppingly stylish $895,000 42-foot La Decadence. “Our boat is very well-suited for the Caribbean market, and for Miami in particular.’’
In Miami, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, which kicked off its 48th year on Saturday, had a strong showing, with more than 100,000 attendees to enjoy the art, entertainment, global food village and culinary pavilion.
A total of 380 exhibitors were selected, out of 1,232 applicants, this year, within such categories as digital art, fiber, glass, jewelry and metalwork, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture, watercolor and wood, said Coconut Grove Arts Festival President Monty Trainer.
“Two different events, two different sides of our community,’’ he said, “which is another sign that Miami as a destination has a lot of range – not just the excitement of Miami Beach, but the laid-back vibe of Coconut Grove.’’