Nov. 2, 2017 – The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) announced today record-breaking $26 billion in expenditures by overnight visitors to the destination September 2016 – August 2017, representing, a 2% increase over the same time of the previous year. Overnight visitors reached a record 15.9 million September 2016 – August 2017, representing a .5% increase for the same time period. Additionally, hospitality sector jobs increased by 3.9% for the same period. Demand for the destination grew by 1.8% 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.
International arrivals at Miami International Airport (MIA)were up by 1.2% the past twelve months through August 2017over a previous record-breaking year. More than 96% of overnight visitors to Greater Miami arrive by air. MIA, home to more airline carriers than any other airport in the country, 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 just today, Miami welcomed back El-Al, resuming direct service from Tel-Aviv to Miami.
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. 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% more rooms for twelve months through September 2017 compared to the same time the previous year. Leading hotel brands continue to look to Miami when launching new projects – recognizing Miami’s strong position as a global gateway, making it an attractive market for new hotel projects.
PortMiami, known as “The Cruise Capital of the World” 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 the “big three” of the cruising industry: Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines; continues to expand its portfolio of cruise ships. Royal Caribbean, displaying a strong commitment to the Miami market 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. PortMiami’s unique position in Downtown Miami provides cruise passengers with direct access to world-class hotels, shopping, dining and attractions, encouraging visitors to stay longer and enjoy pre or post cruise vacations in Miami.
This year, despite the steep decline of the Brazilian market, (historically the top international market for the destination), total international visitors into Miami actually grew by 3.1% 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.
“Miami welcomes the highest percentage of international visitors than any other destination in the country and while international visitation to the U.S. is down as a whole, Miami’s international numbers are up,” said William D. Talbert, III, C.D.M.E. “In a year of hurricanes, international market fluctuations, a convention center under renovation, Zika, extensive new hotel room inventory and all the challenges that could devastate a destination, Greater Miami and the Beachescontinues to show growth. That speaks to the Miami brand’s resiliency and nods to why more than ever, we will continue global marketing programs to protect and grow our market share.”
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 an impressive 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. As a global gateway, Greater Miami and Beaches attracts world-class, international sporting events and this summer these events fueled a record-breaking month of July across all hotel performance metrics including record-breaking number of rooms sold, occupancy and RevPar.
“Our ideal weather means that visitors have access to their favorite sporting activities 365 days a year, and as a global gateway, sporting event organizers continue to choose Miami as a hub to host international competitions”, said Bruce Orosz, Board Chair for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Miami is now competing in many categories including in the film production industry thanks to recent film incentives passed by Miami-Dade County, City of Miami Beach, City of North Miami and as of January in the City of Doral as well. And soon, with a new and reimagined Miami Beach Convention Center, we will be well-positioned to attract leading medical and tech meetings from all over the world.”
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 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.