The 50th annual Fort Myers Boat Show, the largest boat show on Florida’s west coast, will begin Thursday—with changes—as the yacht basin continues to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Ian.
Ian left the Fort Myers Yacht Basin with extensive, still-visible damage, which is why 2023’s boat show will not have any in-water displays.
“Boat sales have just been through the roof the past few years, and then we saw a little lag the last 3 months due to the hurricane; a lot of our waterways have had obstructions, it hasn’t been safe to go boating. We’ve obviously had a lot of issues to overcome in Southwest Florida,” said Kyle Good, manager of the Fort Myers Boat Show. “Our businesses are important to keeping our economy alive, and without having that traffic at our dealerships it was very concerning, and the dealers all got together and said, ‘Yeah, it won’t be feasible to have our boat show in November, but we need to push forward and have a boat show.’”
Boats are positioned on dry land for the 50th annual Fort Myers Boat Show beginning Thursday, January 5, 2023. Credit: WINK News
Organizers say that due to the storm, several in-water exhibitors will show boats on land, and others with larger boats plan on having booth displays inside the convention center.
The boat show brings in big business for Fort Myers, with people patronizing the businesses in and around the show. Although Ian stopped this year’s water displays, Go Boating Florida says it has anything people need to get out on the water.
“Now we’re getting the debris out the water, our waterways are back open, our dealers are accumulating high inventory levels and they are very motivated to sell these boats,” Good said. “We have boats just spread out all throughout Centennial Park, in front of the convention center, to the west of the 41 Bridge, under the 41 Bridge, on Edwards Drive… there’s just boats spread out throughout the entire river district.”
The show runs Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. on Sunday). Find tickets online at the Go Boating Florida website.