The world’s largest in-water boat show still intends to go on in October. The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, a.k.a. FLIBS, is proceeding with AllSecure, a set of health and safety standards developed by its organizers with federal and local officials, among others.
Set for October 28 to November 1, FLIBS spans seven locations. The Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF) owns it, partnering with Informa Markets U.S. Boat Shows to produce it. Informa Markets says last year saw about 1,500 boats and yachts on display. Furthermore, it says, more than 100,000 visitors from around the world attended. Also last year, 1,200 exhibitors had displays.
Andrew Doole, president of Informa Markets U.S. Boat Shows, says, “Since the inception of the pandemic, we have been focused on a plan that prioritizes safety and an exceptional visitor experience, so that every person who attends our events can do so safely and with confidence.” Due to its business focus on global events, Informa Markets’ parent company, Informa Plc, developed AllSecure. AllSecure employs thermal temperature checks upon entry and non-contact ticketing and registration. Masks are mandatory for all attendees and exhibitors, too. Additionally, it calls for hand-sanitizing stations throughout the venues, plus cleaning and disinfecting during show hours and overnight. AllSecure further calls for social-distancing signs and floor markings. Individuals serving as “social ambassadors” will remind attendees to space out as well. Exhibitors, meanwhile, cannot have interactive displays. Plus, floor markings will encourage social distancing within their booths.
Phil Purcell, MIASF’s CEO/president, asserts that the combination of AllSecure, the seven sites, “and nearly 90 acres of outdoor space will allow every guest and exhibitor who attends over the five days of the show to feel confident and safe.” Doole adds that Informa Markets can “adapt quickly if need be given rapidly changing conditions, policies, and guidelines.”
Clouds hang over the show, however. Exhibitors and attendees from Europe and the UK may not be able to enter the United States, for example. Presidential proclamations from March still prohibit their non-essential arrival, and remain open-ended. Furthermore, the Monaco Yacht Show—also produced by Informa Markets—cancelled due to major exhibitors pulling out and ongoing concerns about COVID-19.
Marine-industry professionals stateside and abroad have expressed concern over the thousands of attendees, too. Jeff Erdmann, a yacht broker with Denison Yacht Sales, posted on LinkedIn:
According to MIASF, FLIBS in its 60th year attracted an international audience of more than 110,000 boating enthusiasts from Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, as well as every corner of the U.S. Exactly what COVID-19 needs to spread! #stopcovid19
In a FAQs section on the FLIBS website, Informa states:
All Informa events will maintain a density of participants in line with local authority regulations and venue or other relevant guidance. This will be managed through one or more control measures such as pre-show communications to participants, a one-way traffic system around show floors, onsite signage and floor markings, and onsite social distance ambassadors.