Palm Beach International Boat Show: After recession, industry is on rebound

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The boating industry is on the rebound after being hit hard by the recession, organizers of the 28th annual Palm Beach International Boat Show said on Thursday.

"Boat sales dropped dramatically and now we're seeing, since the start of the year and the end of last year, people are starting to buy boats again," said Andrew Doole, a senior vice president at Show Management, which manages and produces the boat show.

Doole said billions of dollars in sales at the Miami International Boat Show in February had made vendors in West Palm Beach optimistic.

Some boats -- paddle boats -- are being sold at the show for as little as $1,000.

Others, such as the 223-foot Kismet, the largest yacht ever docked at the boat show, are being sold for as much as $100 million.

"You know, I think at the end of the weekend, there are going to be a lot of boats sold," Doole said.

The boat show has grown from showcasing around 200 boats in the 1990s to more than 600 boats this week.

Forty thousand people attended the boat show last year, organizers said.

"They have almost everything your imagination can desire," said Kristin Eisenschneider, a Palm Beach Gardens resident who visited the boat show on Thursday. "This is such a nice boat show. It's not too big. You can see it in one day. And, that's wonderful."

The boat show runs through Sunday, March 24th.

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