Despite Hurricane Irma, Miami Sees Major Increase In Tourism
By Sharelle Burt
They say if you work together, great things will happen.
After Hurricane Irma, the city of Miami was sure it was going to take a while before tourists were filling the streets again. Turns out they were wrong. Despite all the damage, Miami brought in a record-breaking 16 million visitors between late 2017 and mid-2018. Overnight visitors are the real heroes, bringing in $26.5 billion just in spending money, which is an amazing two percent increase compared to the previous year.
If you’ve ever been to Miami, then you understand why people flock there. The culture, vibrant colors, tasty food, the beaches, not to mention plenty of eye candy to go around. On top of that, there are many places to stay, which was evident as hotel performance grew as well. Revenue per available room, or RevPAR, went up more than ten percent over the same time period the previous year, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“Tourism growth was predominately due to leisure business as the $620-million renovated Miami Beach Convention Center remained offline to conventions during the construction process,” the GMCVB said in a statement. “Now, as the new MBCC nears completion and can once again host citywide conventions, the destination is poised to benefit from further economic impact generated by the meetings industry.”
Let’s talk about this brand new convention center. Costing close to $620 million, the new space will include a new 60,000 square-foot-grand-ballroom, 500,000 feet of exhibit space, 84 breakout rooms, and a new six-acre public park to serve as incremental event space. It sounds like we need to book something there just for an excuse to go. Two organizations have already taken advantage of the new digs. The American Health Information Management Association hosted an event there in September and this week the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery will settle in. Both events are set to bring in close to $10 million for the Miami community.
This growth in tourism couldn’t have happened without the help of the community that embraces visitors every day. “Thanks to community partnerships, tourism infrastructure investment and GMCVB destination marketing programs, the tourism industry remained vibrant and steadfast while fueling growth in hospitality jobs for the community,” President and CEO of the GMCVB, William Talbert, III said in a statement. “The travel industry’s future is bright for Greater Miami.”
New marketing initiatives like “Hotels First” and “Found in Miami” have also helped. Hotels First focuses on making hotels the focal point of a visitor’s vacation, while Found in Miami is a global campaign focusing on the rich heritage of greater Miami’s multicultural neighborhoods. To add to that, the bureau also formed two new divisions, Multicultural Tourism & Development division and the Sports & Entertainment Tourism, to help re-energize two sectors and generate increased hotel demand.