The 61st annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) is set to go ahead at the end of the month, spread over 90 acres. It’s now accessible by 13 show entrances, which the organisers hope will help deter the spread of Covid-19, currently running rife throughout the USA.
The World Health Organisation has advised governments that before ‘reopening’ areas, positivity rates (percentage of tests that are positive) should be 5 per cent or lower for at least 14 days. Thirty one US states are presently above that, according to the Financial Times, including Florida which John Hopkins University calculates has a current positivity rate of 11.7%.
Marine Industries Association of South Florida CEO and president Phil Purcell compared FLIBS to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom when making the decision to move forward with a live show, according to Biz Journal.
The Magic Kingdom has hosted 10,000 guests across its 107-acre campus each day since it reopened in July. The boat show is expected to draw smaller crowds over 90 acres.
“To not have an event like [ours] when other counties are hosting 10,000 people a day would be the worst message we could sent to people nationally and across the globe,” says Purcell.
“In putting on the boat show, we can show that we were able to effectively host an event that really bolstered the local economy. All our focus should be on how to effectively allow people to do business again.”
Last year, FLIBS’ total statewide economic impact was estimated at $1.3bn and over $714m in product was sold over the 5-day event. More than 8,000 full-time jobs were associated with the show in 2019. But, while the show’s claims to have attracted over 100,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors representing 52 countries were plus points pre-pandemic, those catchy figures have a different emphasis now.
That said, organisers are aiming for a suite of hygiene measures to protect guests.
FLIBS is increasing its six miles of floating docks to widths up to 30 feet along the face dock, allowing, organisers say, plenty of roomy walking space for a smooth and safe flow of traffic.
To maintain social distancing, more shuttle buses and water taxi services have been added to transport guests safely around the show, while providing social distance seating between riders. Both forms of transportation will adhere to the new safety and health guidelines of the show, undergoing deep cleaning before guests board. Guests will have their temperature checked before and after water taxis rides and have their contactless tickets scanned.
There’s also general site cleaning, and deep cleaning, and deeper cleaning – but the stark difference to European shows which have been successfully planned, and a few held, is the ‘free-for-all’ approach, rather than pre-booked appointments.
Those that do attend (Oct 28 – Nov 1, pre-bought tickets only) will get to see new yacht debuts from manufacturers, including the world debut of Ocean Alexander’s 27Explorer, 32Legend and 36Legend, Princess Yachts’ North American debut of the Y78, and Azimut’s Magellano 25 Metri, among others.