Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, most major boat shows have gone virtual, although in-person shows have begun to ramp back up in some places, albeit with increased safety guidelines and smaller, controlled crowds. The marine industry now turns its eyes towards Florida where 2021 boat shows have begun to make a cautious start to more in-person, in-water events.

FLIBS 2020

The first major marine event since the start of the pandemic was the 61st annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) in November 2020. This marked a big event in the industry, as the last major in-person boat show prior to this event had been the 2020 Miami Boat Show, back in March. After that show, nearly all in-person events were cancelled for safety and health reasons - including the following 2021 Miami Boat Show, after the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) completed a market-by-market analysis. Eight other boat shows across the country were cancelled, including: The Atlanta Boat Show, Baltimore Boat Show, Chicago Boat Show, Louisville Boat Show, Minneapolis Boat Show, Nashville Boat Show, New York Boat Show and the St. Louis Boat Show.

With FLIBS 2020, the show organizers took extensive COVID-19 safety measures, including mandatory face masks, contact-less ticketing, large entrances/exits, wider docks, increased cleaning schedules, hand sanitizing stations and other social distancing crowd-control methods. The staff and exhibitors were dedicated to making sure such an event could be held safely and responsibly.

2021 Saint Petersburg Boat Show - St. Petersburg, FL

Today, January 14th, 2021, marks the start of another substantial in-person, in-water boat show event: The 43rd Annual St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show. The largest boat show on the Gulf Coast, it is open for four days, until Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, at the Duke Energy Center for the Arts, Mahaffey Theater Yacht Basin and Albert Whitted Park in St. Petersburg, Florida.

COVID-19 Precautions, Guidelines And Regulations

All show staff, exhibitors and attendees will be required to have their temperature checked before entering the show and it will be mandatory to wear face masks as required by City of St Petersburg and Pinellas County emergency orders. An outdoor 40,000-square-foot clear span tent will house all types of marine gear and attendees will be able to explore an extraordinary selection of power boats and sailboats in the water and on land. Signs will be posted throughout the show reminding attendees to follow all federal, CDC and state guidelines and regulations.

2021 Stuart Boat Show - Stuart, FL

Next, the Stuart Boat Show - billing itself this year as "A COVID-Conscious & Safe Outdoor Event" - will run their in-person show from Jan 15-17, 2021 in Stuart, Florida. Named as one of the top 20 events in the southeast by Southeast tourism society, this is the largest boat show on Florida's treasure coast and in 2020 the show will feature 175 local, national and international exhibitors and boat builders - displaying hundreds of boats in-water and on land. Vessels range in size from 12 feet to over 90 feet, from speedboats to motor yachts, pontoons to sport fishing yachts, and everything in between. Partial proceeds from the show will benefit the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast.

COVID-19 Guidelines And Regulations

COVID-19 guidelines and regulations will be followed and adhered to strictly throughout the entire Stuart Boat show. Roaming boat show staff will continuously remind attendees to wear a mask - based on the recommendations and guidelines of the Florida Department of Health, Center for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

Overcrowding will be prevented by limiting passengers on bus transportation to and from the show and masks are mandatory on all buses arriving or departing. Show entrance and exit points will be limited to two, widened access points, where staff will take the temperature of all attendees upon entry to show. Disposable masks at entrances and exits for all those who want/need them will be available, as well as hand sanitizer stations positioned throughout the show, and all exits, entrances and nearby bus stops.

A dedicated team of boat show staff will manage refilling and placement of hand sanitizer stations, as well as provide deep cleaning/sanitization throughout the day and every evening. Restrooms will be cleaned/sanitized hourly and deep cleaned/sanitized after show hours. Dedicated staff for food court area to clean/sanitize continually throughout the day Provide awareness of COVID safety protocols to exhibitors prior to and during show

Seating has been reduced and exhibitors must follow the guidelines of the Florida Department of Health, Center for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization. Show staff will always be required to wear a mask.