Despite the economic downturn, international visitors to greater Miami area and the beaches generated a record $11 billion in economic impact in 2009. The record was fueled by an increase in the length of stay, increased shopping, and a generally weaker U.S. dollar throughout the year, the Greater Miami Convention &Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) reports.
The increase was driven primarily by growth of visitors from key South American markets including Venezuela (+5.5 percent), Brazil (+5 percent), Argentina (+3.5 percent) and Colombia (+2 percent). A record 2.5 million overnight visitors from South America visited Miami in 2009, a +2.8 percent increase compared to 2008.
Total international overnight visitors to Miami reached more than 5.7 million people generating record spending of $11 billion, a +3.8 percent increase over 2008. While the total number of international overnight visitors to Miami declined by -1.8 percent, the increased spending is in contrast to overall international spending in the U.S., which decreased by -15.0 percent in 2009 along with a decline of -5 percent in visitation to the U.S. Total domestic overnight visitors reached more than 6.2 million and included a record 538,000 visitors from the western region of the United States despite a decrease of— 1.4 percent.
Overall, more than 11.9 million overnight visitors were welcomed to Miami in 2009, a slight decrease of -1.6 percent compared to 2008.
Among the top 25 hotel markets in the U.S., Miami ranked #4 for average daily room rate (ADR) and hotel room occupancy in 2009. This increase is particularly significant as Miami also absorbed a +9.3 percent increase in hotel room inventory in 2009, the largest percent increase in the nation among the top 25 hotel markets. In addition, the destination was able to expand its market share by capturing an additional 5 percent of all hotel room nights generated by the top 25 domestic destinations.
Also in 2009, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau expanded the “Miami: Where Worlds Meet” campaign, a multi-million dollar global marketing campaign to promote Miami-Dade County as a premier destination for business, meetings and vacations.
Visitor satisfaction levels also reached a record 98.1 percent in 2009, reflecting the industry’s commitment to customer service and the Bureau’s focus through its “Miami Begins With Me” program. The GMCVB’s local customer service initiative has been further expanded with Miami International Airport’s ‘Miami Begins with MIA’ program, which provides customer service training to all 35,000 airport employees.
With 98 percent of Greater Miami’s visitors arriving by air, Miami International Airport is the front door to the destination and plays a key role in the visitor experience. Also recognizing the importance of the cruise industry and Miami’s role as the “Cruise Capitol of the World”, the GMCVB program is now being expanded to the Port of Miami.
Greater Miami’s travel and tourism industry continued to be a primary source of employment for the community in 2009, retaining 97.5 percent of jobs during the global economic recession.
“While 2009 was a challenging year worldwide, we have seen significant improvement in our numbers and led the country in occupancy during the first quarter of 2010,” states Steven Haas, GMCVB board chair and long-standing local restaurateur. “Looking ahead, the GMCVB’s summer marketing plans, including Miami Spa Month in July and Miami Spice Restaurant Month, running August through September, provide visitors with an important value offering and anticipate they will help stimulate arrivals as they did in 2009.”