ECONOMIC TIME MACHINE

For tourism, February still a reminder of better days

 

dhanks@MiamiHerald

Amid record tourism counts, Miami-Dade still awaits another milestone February.

New numbers may reveal one any day now, but so far February 2007 remains the record in terms of a key industry benchmark: revenue-per-room. It was $192.69 during February 2007, when Super Bowl came to town and the recession was still nine months away from starting in December. February 2012 came in at $168.49 — a three-year high, but still below both February 2007 and February 2008 ($176.37), according to Smith Travel Research.

Yet, tourism in Miami-Dade is booming by all counts. Overall hotel taxes are at record amounts, as is the 12-month average of room revenue. In fact, hotel tax collections hit a record in February 2012. That’s thanks to a crop of new hotels, allowing more guests to book rooms during the peak winter vacation season. Indeed, the 2007-2008 stretch that brought the records coincided with renovations at the Eden Roc and Fontainebleau — mammoth projects that squeezed inventory even further and let other hotels generate more revenue from the rooms they were renting.

Still, the fact that revenue-per-room (known as “revpar” in the hotel biz) hasn’t hit a new record in February shows that hotels haven’t been able to charge quite the same premiums as they do throughout the rest of the year. This chart compares an average of the most recent Smith revpar data for the past two years to the same data from the 07-08 stretch.

For sure, the recovery has sent rates soaring particularly high during the stretch between summer and fall — one of the slowest for South Florida hotels. It’s also interesting to note that December leads the rebound. Art Basel, a significant driver of rates that month each year, took a big hit in demand during 2007 and 2008. That global art fair’s strong rebound may be causing a more pronounced recovery for the crucial holiday travel season.

The Miami Herald’s Economic Time Machine blog seeks to put South Florida’s recovery into historical perspective. We try to take the long view on economic stats. For analysis of the latest economic news, visit miamiherald.com/economic-time-machine and look for our weekly chart on Page 3 of Business Monday.

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