In the countdown to this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, every Tuesday we’ll bring you the latest news from the show. In this first blog, we explain how organizers plan on keeping show-goers safe and healthy.
It always starts with the water taxi ride. From Las Olas down the New River. The best $12 you can spend. Gazing at the mega-mansions with their towering superyachts parked outside. Listening to the jolly commentary from the first mate, sharing the secrets of which celeb, which captain of industry, which sports star lives where.
Then, to round the curve and spy the armada of showboats packed like sardines on the Bahia Mar docks. Your jaw drops, your eyes widen, your pulse goes into jackhammer mode. You’re here.
The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show – to most of us it’s simply FLIBS – never fails to create that rush of adrenaline. Whether you’re here to buy, to gaze, to dream, or to simply soak-up the spectacle, the show is like catnip to boat lovers.
And right now, the 61st annual FLIBS, the world’s largest in-water boat show, is still very much a Go. From Wednesday October 28, to Monday November 1. Six days of nautical nirvana.
But this year’s show is naturally going to be different. Covid-19 has seen to to that. And with the countdown to Day 1 tick-tocking away, we all want to know whether we’ll be safe, and what precautions are being put in place to ensure our health, safety and peace of mind.
Five minutes on the phone with Andrew Doole will ease a lot of those justified concerns. The boat-loving Brit is president of FLIBS organizer Informa Markets US Boat Shows. Since Covid raised its ugly head last spring, Doole and his team have been creating a masterplan of extraordinary measures to ensure visitor safety.
“That plan is now very much in place and we feel it really raises the bar on health and safety, and ensures everyone who comes to the show can do so with real confidence,” he tells me.
At the core of his plan is what he calls “AllSecure”, a set of standards that have been created with the help of GBAC, the Global Biorisk Advisory Council.
It focuses on a total deep-cleanse before, during and after each day’s events. Plus hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations throughout the show space.
Doole will also make it easier for visitors to get into the show. It’ll start with more buses and water taxis, with 50 per cent occupancy.
There’ll also be an additional five entrances – 16 instead of the usual 11 – to shorten lines and make it easier to stay six feet apart. And no paper tickets; you’ll need to download your ticket to your phone. Temperature checks? Naturally.
And when you get in, you’ll be able to distance yourself better from fellow show-goers, courtesy of wider walkways on the six miles of floating docks. Most will be 10-feet wider, with many being up to 30-feet wide. Aisles in the exhibition tents will be wider too, and have a one-way flow.
As for masking-up, Doole says he’s firmly following Broward County protocols, which right now, require everyone in indoor and outdoor public spaces to wear a mask. So be prepared to mask-up.
Of course, he’s under no illusion that attendance numbers will be down this year. The main reason; fewer overseas visitors will make the trip – largely because of quarantining requirements when they return home.
But he quickly points out that fewer visitors will mean more space to walk around, and shorter lines to get on to that $100 million superyacht in the SuperYacht Village.
“Everyone wants this year’s show to go ahead. FLIBS is a major economic driver benefiting the entire marine industry, the city of Fort Lauderdale and the state of Florida. We reckon it has a total statewide economic impact of around $1.3 billion,” says Doole.
“And for the thousands of boating enthusiasts really looking forward to the show, they should rest assured that we’ll be doing everything possible to keep them safe and healthy,” he adds.
For all information on FLIBS 2020, go to www.flibs.com