Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Celebrates 60 Years

Long before the Internet or cable television or even before a man walked on the moon, there was the Fort Lauderdale (International) Boat Show (FLIBS). Originally founded in 1959 by local manufacturers and dealers looking for a way to sell boats, and directed by a committee of volunteers, this year FLIBS will celebrate its 60th anniversary in a town that has become world-renowned as the “Yachting Capital of the World.”
Today FLIBS is owned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF), produced by Informa Markets, and recognized as the largest in-water boat show in the world, with an annual statewide economic impact of $857 million!

FLIBS has introduced a myriad of additional examples of exhibition innovation throughout its impressive history. Over the past decade, a complex transportation network of water taxis, riverboats, and shuttle buses has been developed to ferry about 85,000 visitors across the show’s seven waterfront locations.
The show’s culinary bona fides have also been updated and upgraded throughout the years. Simple food courts have expanded into gourmet “foodie” destinations featuring everything from ocean-side favorites such as conch fritters (3000 pounds served) to sushi, a raw bar and an epicurean Trulucks Lobster Roll. Over 100,000 glasses of beer are also enjoyed at the show annually, more than what’s consumed at the Super Bowl!
All these developments have helped propel FLIBS from a local boating exhibition to an international, full-scale, multi-sensory, lifestyle experience. Most of all, FLIBS has become an anchor of Fort Lauderdale’s cultural and commercial community, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the local community each year and never failing to welcome boating fans even in times of national crisis.
Since the show’s birth 60 years ago, the five-day event continues to offer a little something for everyone, from personal submarines to a futuristic yacht crafted entirely from stainless steel debuting this year. But at FLIBS there is one current that remains — the welcoming atmosphere and carefree vibe always makes it a place where both yachting novices and the yachting-obsessed can find their sea legs, without ever getting their feet wet.

For a selection of images of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in its early years, please visit Maritime Executive's FLIBS feature article