The Covid-19 pandemic had led to widespread cancellation of poker runs, races and boat shows across the country this year. Now add the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference in Tampa, Florida to the list.
Despite red-hot boat sales this year, organizers are turning IBEX into a virtual-only event that will run the same dates as the show, September 29-October 1.
“The health and safety of our visitors, exhibitors, and partners is our primary concern,” said Anne Dunbar, IBEX Show Director, in a press release. “While gathering in-person is not the right decision this year, we will instead connect virtually. IBEX is known for forward-thinking education and allowing buyers and manufacturers to meet and do business.
“We are working to bring all that you expect from IBEX to an online format. With the barriers of travel, budget constraints and time away from the office removed, this is a unique opportunity to attend from a distance and a great chance to share IBEX with your co-workers and teams who don’t typically attend, particularly emerging professionals or those new to the marine industry.”
Organizers decided to pivot to virtual event because of the uncertainty due to the pandemic, social distancing and potential travel restrictions. Through the platform, the marine industry can connect online with experts and product manufacturers. Registration will open in August.
Out on the West Coast, Eliminator Boats canceled its annual Regatta because of the pandemic. The regatta was originally set for May and the company pushed it to September 11-12. When it became clear the pandemic wouldn’t be ending soon, Eliminator Boats President Jake Fraleigh made the difficult decision to postpone the event at Lake Havasu, Arizona, for 2021.
“Spikes in COVID cases have hit several states, including Arizona and California, and we cannot put our customers/family at risk,” Fraleigh wrote in a letter to the company’s customers. “We have labored with this decision for weeks, but we know we have made the right decision.”