Tourism & Cruises

A local dud, Tropical Storm Erika still put damper on tourism

A life guard station displayed warning flags Aug. 27 in South Beach. Forecasters weren’t sure if Tropical Storm Erika would make it to South Florida at that point; it never did.
A life guard station displayed warning flags Aug. 27 in South Beach. Forecasters weren’t sure if Tropical Storm Erika would make it to South Florida at that point; it never did. AP

Tropical Storm Erika might have washed out before getting as far as South Florida last month, but it still took a toll on tourism.

According to data from travel research firm STR, Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys both saw year-over-year hotel occupancy fall in August, which ended with the threat of a hurricane.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Aug. 28 in preparation for Erika; the the storm fell apart the next morning over Cuba.

The Florida Keys saw the biggest drop: Hotels were 74.3 percent full in August, compared to 79 percent full a year earlier. Room rates still ticked up 4 percent to more than $223.

Andy Newman, spokesman for the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, said that before the storm threat developed, August occupancy was up 2 percent.

“The potential but never realized threat from Tropical Storm Srika had an impact on data for the Keys,” he said. He said over the final four days of the month, the average occupancy loss was 42 percent.

In Miami-Dade, hotel occupancy was nearly 76 percent, a drop of 3.5 percent compared to the previous year. Rates were essentially flat at more than $146 a night.

“After a very robust July, the last week of August was impacted by the dampening effect of Tropical Storm Erika,” William Talbert, III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in a statement. “Despite the weather, Miami-Dade saw an increase in the number of rooms sold during the month of August.”

Broward County was less affected. Although STR data shows that occupancy at hotels that reported their data to the firm dropped less than a percent, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau said the broader picture was positive.

Including hotels that did not report their numbers to STR, occupancy nudged up a tiny bit to 74.7 percent, a spokeswoman said. Average daily rates were up 3.6 percent to $103.20, the highest ever for August.

“Our non reporting properties actually showed a slight increase in occupancy, so despite additional inventory the National Urban League pushed our numbers forward,” Nicki Grossman, the bureau’s president, said in a statement. “Summer has been very good to us.”

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