Stats: Through August, Miami Set Tourism Record

Miami // Photo by Mindy_Nicole_Photography/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Photo by Mindy_Nicole_Photography/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) has announced the destination received a record-breaking $26 billion in expenditures by overnight visitors to the destination September 2016 – August 2017, the period immediately before Hurricane Irma struck Florida in September.

The expenditures represent a 2 percent increase over the same time of the previous year. Overnight visitors reached a record 15.9 million September 2016 – August 2017, representing a .5 percent increase for the same time period. Additionally, hospitality sector jobs increase by 3.9 percent for the same period. Demand for the destination grew by 1.8 percent with hotels selling more room nights October 2016 – September 2017 compared to the same time for the previous year. The growth for the travel and tourism industry in the past twelve months was fueled by the strength of the international market, as reflected in expanded air service and the Miami brand’s resiliency in a year of challenges, the GMCVB said.

International arrivals at Miami International Airport (MIA) were up by 1.2 percent the past twelve months through August 2017 over a previous record-breaking year. More than 96 percent of overnight visitors to Greater Miami arrive by air. MIA welcomed additional international service in 2017, including WOW Airlines with direct service from Reykjavik, SAS Airways with direct service from Stockholm, Aer Lingus with direct service from Dublin and El-Al, resuming direct service from Tel Aviv.

Multiple headwinds faced the destination in 2017, including the Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) being off-line for the $615 million reimagined expansion project set to be completed in September 2018, the GMCVB said. Due to the construction, the MBCC has been unable to host large-scale conventions that typically drive strong economic impact. Increased competition for the local hotel industry has proved challenging due to an incremental 2,109 rooms coming online in the past twelve months through August 2017. Despite the challenges to the hotel industry, demand for the destination remains strong, with hotels selling 1.8 percent more rooms for twelve months through September 2017 compared to the same time the previous year. 

PortMiami helped fuel Greater Miami’s travel and tourism industry’s growth, reporting a record-breaking 5.3 million passengers sailed from Miami, October 2016 - September 2017.  PortMiami, the global headquarters for Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line, continues to expand its portfolio of cruise ships. Royal Caribbean is investing $250 million of private capital to build a new terminal at PortMiami to house the world’s largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, scheduled to sail from Miami beginning March 31, 2018.

This year, despite the steep decline of the Brazilian market, (historically the top international market for the destination), total international overnight visitors into Miami grew by 3.1 percent, fueled by growth in other markets such as Germany (14.1%), Argentina (10.5%) and Colombia (5.9%) for twelve months through August 2017, contributing to Miami’s resiliency. Even with the significant weakening of the Brazilian market, sales and marketing efforts in the region remain strong, positioning the destination favorably as the country rebounds from political and economic challenges.

This year, the GMCVB launched the new “Found in Miami” marketing program, an active domestic and international advertising and destination branding campaign that speaks to the destination’s authentic travel experiences and calls on travelers to go deeper into the destination and discover the cultural riches of multicultural neighborhoods such as Little Havana, Historic Overtown, Wynwood, West Grove, Little Haiti, North Miami Beach and many more. The campaign encourages visitors to stay longer and explore Miami’s diverse neighborhoods to discover authentic and soul-stirring experiences. 

The GMCVB utilized the Found in Miami campaign as a platform to push a “Hotels First” initiative, positioning hotels as the focal point to a visitor’s vacation. This strategic priority was launched to counter the challenges of the significant increase in Miami’s hotel room inventory and help drive demand in the hotel sector. The “Hotels First” sentiment was captured via several marketing channels making hotels the “hero” through advertising, social media and communication programs, to include consumer-facing events in top markets such as New York City. The strategic imperative also gave rise to the first-ever “Miami Hotel Month”, launched in June, providing visitors with unique discounts and hotel promotions.

The GMCVB’s hotel initiative coincided with a list of global sporting events taking place across the destination during the summer including: Major League Baseball All-Star Game Week; International Soccer events: Paris Saint-Germain vs. Juventus and El Clasico Miami: Real Madrid vs. Barcelona; Pan American Weightlifting Championships, USA Weightlifting American Open Series II and Jewish Community Centers (JCC) Maccabi Games.

The reimagined Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) set to open in the heart of South Beach in September 2018, will come equipped with sophisticated design and technology features, positioning the destination favorably to attract world-class events and conventions, the GMCVB said. The GMCVB is already successfully booking citywide conventions for the future renovated MBCC including the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) annual convention which will inaugurate the new venue followed by the CA Technology annual convention, which has committed to bringing the annual convention to the MBCC for at least three years. The GMCVB will continue strategic marketing campaigns aimed at the meetings industry to include sales, advertising and digital programs as well communication initiatives including press conferences at selected meetings trade shows.

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