WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The first-ever virtual Palm Beach International Boat Show launched online Thursday.
Organizers were forced to cancel the in-person event because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Horns sounded Thursday morning to usher in the popular boat show, not on the water, but online for the first time.
"A lot of these exhibitors, this could be 60 percent of what they're going to do business in the year, so we wanted to do something to give back to the exhibitors and to the attendees," said Andrew Doole, President of the U.S. Boat Show Division for Informa Markets.
The virtual boat show will be almost like being there in person. You can take virtual tours of almost 800 vessels, and check out exhibitors and seminars.
"Certainly for next year or future boat shows, we would do this as a teaser going into the show," said Doole.
As one of the top five boat shows in the country, last year the Palm Beach International Boat Show brought about 50,000 visitors to the area and more than $600 million to the state.
"It's a tremendous economic loss, not only to our city, but to the boat show itself," said West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James. "But I admire the creativity and innovation to come up with the idea of a virtual boat show."
Producers of the boat show hope a virtual version will bring some sales to those missing out.
"There's a lot of owners of boats that are anxious to get back out on the water and go cruising again, so there's a lot of pent up desire to use their boats, and we think there will be a lot of boat sales online," said Doole.
To attend the virtual Palm Beach International Boat Show, click here.