Tourism & Cruises

Miami-Dade visitors bureau reports record year, bright future

Rendering of the Portman-designer convention center hotel planned for Miami Beach.
Rendering of the Portman-designer convention center hotel planned for Miami Beach.

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s annual meeting on Friday was as much about the future as it was a look back on a record-setting year for tourism.

At the gathering of about 600 business leaders at the Miami Beach Convention Center, President and CEO William D. Talbert III released a statistical review of the year past. He also gave attendees a look at plans for the new Miami Beach Convention Center and convention hotel.

“It’s not about quantity, it’s quality,” said Talbert, in explaining the benefits the new convention center, currently scheduled to break ground in December and open in 2018, will bring to the tourism and meeting industry in Miami-Dade. With a state-of-the-art LEED-certified center and amenity-laden hotel, due to open in 2019, Miami-Dade can compete for top-tier conventions such as in the medical and scientific fields, he said.

The first meeting at the new convention center is already booked: The American Health Information Management Association will be coming in September of 2018.

The new Miami Beach Convention Center is expected to bring in an additional $100 million per year in economic impact, he said.

“We’ve promised 50 new bookings in the next five years, and I think we will exceed that,” said Talbert, in a short interview after the meeting. “The industry is waiting to see the shovel in the ground.”

The next five years also will bring new projects and developments to the Miami area that will boost tourism, including All Aboard Florida train service; American Dream Miami mega mall; Brickell City Centre office, retail and residential complex; Miami World Center retail, hotel and residential development; and the Patricia & Phillip Frost Museum of Science.

The past year set records, Talbert said, including:

▪  Overnight visitors numbered 15.1 million in Miami-Dade in 12 months ending in August, up 5.4 percent from 14.2 million during the same period the previous year and a new record.

▪  The economic impact of the visitors was $25.1 billion for the past 12 months, also a record. That was up 7 percent, from $23.5 billion over the year before.

▪  Airport arrivals were up 5.5 percent and the average stay extended to six nights.

▪  Room nights increased by 3 percent, resulting in a record 13.2 million nights.

▪  Revenue per available room increased 7 percent from $146.48 to $156.70.

“And this year we are seeing a 5 percent increase in hospitality jobs and already we are the number one industry for employment growth – the future is even brighter,” said Talbert. An additional 2,300 hotel rooms are scheduled to be available over the next 12 months.

Bruce Orosz, president of ACT Productions and GMCVB chairman, said initiatives GMCVB started last year that will continue include sports marketing and tourism, medical tourism and the film and production industry.

As for the film and production industry, where expenditures are down 52 percent over five years, he said, “It’s unimaginable how the state would cut the incentives that bring TV and film production to this town. We are working tirelessly to try to convince Tallahassee that this stimulates the economy in every single way.”

International tourism will continue to be a strong focus – international visitors stay longer and spend more – and the GMCVB’s 49 international offices will be a lead-generator, Talbert said.

Ambrish Baisiwala, president and CEO of Portman Holdings and developer of the planned 800-room Art Deco inspired convention center headquarter hotel, showed renderings and said the hotel design will be influenced by water, the beach and art. The privately financed hotel is estimated to bring in $24.6 million in economic impact to the city every year, creating 1,470 jobs, not including construction jobs, he said.

“We very much see this hotel as complementing what is already here but catering to conventioneers that wouldn’t ordinarily look at this market,” said Baisiwala.