Carolyn and Keith Bounsell of Perth, Australia, scouted out yachts on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach this weekend, looking to trade up their 48-foot Sea Ray for a vessel 70 to 80 feet long.
“There’s so much to see and so little time,’’ said Carolyn Bounsell, scurrying in her sundress to the next boat dealer.
Nearby, Birgit and Fred King, of Pawling, N.Y., toured a 65-foot, $3.2 million Maestro as they consider ed selling their horse farm to live aboard a yacht and moving to South Florida.
And across town, local buddies Stewart Gold and Ira Rothstein, accompanied by an entourage of friends, had a blast at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, shelling out $1,200 for two huge, framed photographs to give as wedding gifts.
With sunny skies above, and temperatures hovering near 80 degrees, South Florida is the place to be this Presidents’ Day weekend, as world-class events fill the streets and waterways: the Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail, the Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show and the Coconut Grove Arts Festival – all of which continue on Monday.
And with the economy cruising ahead, and consumer confidence rising, more tourists and locals are opening their eyes – and their wallets – this weekend, a bellwether sign that the recovery is steaming ahead.
“The traffic on the docks is much better from the last few years, which is a pretty good indicator’’ said Bob Saxon, president of Fort Lauderdale-based International Yacht Collection, which brought nine yachts to Miami Beach, including a $24.9 million, 161-foot Trinity. “The stock market is raging, and the word is that the economy is coming back, and that is helping us. If we can move two or three units at this boat show, it would mark a good show for us.’’
At the same time, for South Florida’s vital tourism industry, room rates are higher and hotels are close to full this weekend, offering additional evidence that the economic tide is turning.
“Any destination would die to have any one of these events at any time of the year,’’ said Rolando Aedo, senior vice president of marketing for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We are blessed to have both events, the best and biggest of their categories in one weekend, in the winter season, which is our moment to shine.’’
Overall, more than 100,000 attendees from South Florida and around the world are expected to tour the boat shows. Room rates for the long weekend are $260 on average, compared to $254 last year. And hotel occupancy is close to 89 percent, compared to 77 percent for President’s Day weekend, last year, Aedo said.
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