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2014 tourist tally: 14.5 million in Miami-Dade

Tourist Maureen Shutt, left, of Yorkshire, England, has fun as she dances with Luis Zelie, as a trio of friends play Cuban music on the sidewalk in the Little Havana area of Miami in this 2014 file photo.
Tourist Maureen Shutt, left, of Yorkshire, England, has fun as she dances with Luis Zelie, as a trio of friends play Cuban music on the sidewalk in the Little Havana area of Miami in this 2014 file photo. AP

Despite faltering economies in key Latin American source markets, Miami-Dade welcomed more tourists in 2014 than ever before.

Compared to the previous year, the number of overnight visitors increased 2.4 percent to 14.5 million. Last year was the fifth record-breaking year in a row for the destination.

“It’s up, up, up, up and up,” said William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Just about half of those visitors, 7.26 million, were international. While Latin Americans still represent the largest group coming to Miami — more than 4.2 million — the number of travelers from that region dropped 1 percent. The number of Europeans climbed more than 7 percent to 1.4 million.

The number of domestic travelers coming to Miami increased 3 percent to 7.3 million.

Visitors spent $23.7 billion, a record amount that tops last year’s total by 4 percent. Occupancy for the year climbed to 78.3 percent, and hotel guests spent more on accommodations as average daily rates increased almost 6 percent to $185.12.

Rolando Aedo, chief marketing officer at the tourism bureau, said destination marketers worked hard to capture a slice of the FIFA World Cup action by promoting Miami heavily to Europeans who might be stopping here on their way to Brazil. The bureau also stepped up efforts in Latin America.

Other programs credited in part for last year’s growth include an initiative to showcase individual neighborhoods in the county and successful efforts to land new airlines at Miami International Airport.

That quest for new air service continues this year, Talbert said.

“Between now and end of this calendar year, we will have new air service from all over the world,” he said.

Talbert said those anticipated additions as well as continued investment in hotels and other developments in Miami-Dade have him feeling optimistic as he considers 2015 and the years ahead.

“We see in the future the records continuing,” he said.

That’s a sentiment shared by others in the state as well. Broward welcomed 14.3 million visitors in 2014, a huge leap over the 2013 total of 13.4 million. And the president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has set a goal of 15 million in 2015.

Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing corporation, said that 97.3 million visitors came to the state in 2014, a year-over-year increase of 3.9 percent.

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