British Marine has relaid the unfortunate news from Southampton City Council that BOATS2020 can no longer go ahead due to the rising risk of COVID-19 and growing government fears. Contrastingly, however, there is still hope for the 61st annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) going ahead.

The Southampton Boat Show (BOATS2020) was due to take place from 11-20 September 2020, and was set to open on Friday following extensive work, in collaboration with Southampton City Council, to ensure that the existing Public Health England COVID-19 secure requirements were met. 'We understand that the MDL Ocean Village event has also been cancelled,' reads the statement by BOATS2020. 

"We are desperately disappointed that BOATS2020 will no longer be taking place, especially receiving the news at the eleventh hour before opening. A tremendous amount of work has been put in and it was heartening to see committed exhibitors on-site today getting geared up for opening," began Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine. 

“British Marine has remained committed to staging this not-for-profit boat show to support the leisure marine industry and our host city of Southampton, and I am deeply saddened that it will now no longer be taking place. Alongside our exhibitors, we were ready to open a show that exceeded all safety requirements. We are truly perplexed as to why we are unable to run the show, at least until Monday, in line with the government restrictions imposed yesterday. The global pandemic and unprecedented times mean that the latest circumstances are beyond our control. Public health and safety come first and naturally, as the show organiser, British Marine must comply with all guidance,” Robinson concluded.

While the news was met with mixed reactions online, many believe that this is the right decision in times when rules and regulations are changing so frequently. British Marine will be communicating with exhibitors, ticket holders and further stakeholders, and offered its thanks to all of them for continuing to support the event in these uncertain times. 

'We would like to offer all BOATS2020 ticket holders a credit against their ticket purchase (*applicable to full-priced standard entry tickets to Southampton International Boat Show) for Southampton International Boat Show 2021. As soon as tickets for this event are on sale, we will get in touch with you via e-mail providing a redemption code so that you can easily apply the credit against the purchase of a ticket,' concluded the BOATS2020 statement.

Meanwhile, sunnier news from The Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF), after it was revealed that the 61st annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) stays on course for October 28th – November 1st.

The MIASF, owner of FLIBS, along with show producer, Informa U.S. Boat Shows, announced that the 61st annual FLIBS will go on with support from government officials in both Broward County and the City of Fort Lauderdale. At the Broward County Commission meeting, commissioners provided clear direction to County Administrator Betha Henry to approve the show.

The five-day outdoor boat show will take place from 28th October – 1st November with Informa Markets’ comprehensive AllSecure health and safety standards in place designed to create a visitor experience that prioritises the safety of all attendees, exhibitors, crewmembers, and staff.

“FLIBS is a major economic driver for the marine industry and the surrounding community. We recognise the importance of the show and have spoken with key stakeholders, customers and local government officials, and the resounding response has been in support of moving forward with the outdoor event this fall,” commented Andrew Doole, President of Informa U.S. Boat Shows.

“We have worked diligently to develop a plan so that every person who attends the show can do so with confidence. We are grateful for the support of our elected officials, and our community,” Doole continued.

“I am extremely pleased that the County Commission gave clear direction today that the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show can take place as planned next month. It is vital that we get our economy back on track,” said Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Dean Trantalis. “The upcoming boat show is critical to accomplishing that because the show has a major positive economic impact on Fort Lauderdale, by supporting local businesses and their employees. Public health will be protected. Fort Lauderdale has been a leader in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have worked with the boat show to put together a solid plan to ensure it will be held with the utmost safety,” he concluded. 

FLIBS is the largest in-water boat show in the world, with over 80 per cent of the show taking place in open-air outdoor spaces. The show spans nearly 90 acres of multiple outdoor sites, and in its 61-year history, FLIBS has never been cancelled in its entirety, despite various threats like hurricanes and economic downturns.

In 2019, the show generated an economic impact of $1.3 billion to the state of Florida and more than 8,000 full-time jobs were associated with the show.

“FLIBS is an opportunity to jumpstart the local and state economy through direct sales, as well as hotel stays, transportation, dining, and recreation. Our land-based businesses benefit from the show just as much as our marine businesses. We are pleased our local officials continue to recognise the importance of this event and have given us their full support to move forward,” added MIASF CEO/President, Phil Purcell. 

MIASF and Informa Markets U.S. Boat Shows have devoted significant effort to safeguard the show.  All attendees can expect a contactless ticketing system, multiple new entrances (14 in total), widened docks to widths up to 30', thermo imaging systems for temperature checks and high-velocity sanitisation systems with HEPA filters. Face coverings will be required by all exhibitors and attendees, and CDC signage will be posted throughout the show and in all high-traffic areas. All customer lines will reportedly be spaced out with visual markers every 6', and hygiene stations will also be installed throughout.

With the unpredictable nature of 2020 in mind, we ask the industry how it feels about these two contrasting announcements…

Boat Shows


Where do you stand on attending a Boat Show or similar industry event this year?



 Image courtesy of Informa US Boat Shows (US Boat Shows)

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Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show


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