Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau Announces Record-Breaking Tourism Jobs, Economic Impact,
Record performance in 2017 driven by strength of the international market and continuing in first quarter of 2018
The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) announced today a record-breaking $26 billion in expenditures by overnight visitors to Greater Miami in 2017, representing a +2.1% increase over the previous year. Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry grew by +2.4% reaching a record 144,800 jobs in Miami-Dade for 2017. The growth for the travel and tourism industry in 2017 was fueled by the strength of the international market, with the record-setting pace continuing in the first quarter of 2018. Overnight visitors reached a record 15.9 million in 2017, representing an almost +1.0% increase compared to 2016. Demand for the destination grew by +4.7% with hotels selling more room nights in 2017 compared to 2016, a new record.
On the heels of record-breaking hotel metrics in 2017, Greater Miami continued the trend in 2018, increasing hotel occupancy by +4.3%, hotel room rate by +11.8% and revenue per available hotel room (RevPar) by +16.6%, in the first quarter compared to the same time period the previous year, as reported by Smith Travel Research. Greater Miami’s hotel performance in the first quarter positions the destination in the number one spot across all three hotel metrics among the top 25 markets in the U.S. The positive momentum in hotel growth can be attributed in part to the GMCVB’s “Hotel’s First” marketing initiative launched in summer 2017. The hotel-centric marketing campaign, positions hotels as the focal point to a visitor’s vacation. The strategic priority was launched in 2017 to leverage 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 Hotels Month”, launched in June, providing visitors with unique discounts and hotel promotions.
“The GMCVB’s “Hotels First” initiative, coincided with an impressive list of global sporting events that included Major League Baseball All-Star Game Week; International Champions Cup (Real Madrid vs. Barcelona), Pan American Weightlifting Championships; USA Weightlifting American Open Series II; and Jewish Community Centers (JCC) Maccabi Games,” says Bruce Orosz, GMCVB Chair. “These events, which took place during the summer of 2017, helped fuel a record-breaking month of July across all hotel performance metrics including record-breaking number of rooms sold, occupancy and RevPar.”
Despite a +3.2% increase in hotel room inventory in 2017, Hurricane Irma in September and the closure of the Miami Beach Convention Center for expansion and renovation, the travel and tourism industry achieved record-breaking success due in part to Greater Miami’s strength in the international market. International arrivals at Miami International Airport (MIA) were up by +0.4% in 2017 over a previous record-breaking year. Flight passenger seats from the Brazilian market increased by +3.2% in 2017 over 2016, encouraging a sense of optimism for a rebound from the once-top international market in Miami. Growth in other markets such as Germany +12.5%, Argentina +8.2% and Colombia +2%, contributed to the destination’s increase in international overnight visitors. With more than 96% of over overnight visitors to Greater Miami arriving by air, much of the success in these markets is attributed to the increase in passenger seats on established routes and the addition of new airline routes to the destination. In 2017, Miami International Airport (MIA) welcomed WOW Airlines with direct service from Reykjavik, SAS Airways with direct service from Stockholm, Aer Lingus with direct service from Dublin and welcomed back El-Al, resuming direct service from Tel-Aviv to Miami. MIA is home to more airline carriers than any other airport in the country.
“The GMCVB, along with our partners at Miami International Airport, offer airline carriers a robust incentive program which includes in-market resources to continue route development and passenger seat growth from strategic markets, further growing international visitors who stay longer and spend more” said William D. Talbert, III, C.D.M.E, President and CEO for GMCVB. “We continue to create demand for the Miami brand leveraging our offices in 52 markets around the world. As a result, at 49% Miami enjoys the highest percentage of international visitors than any other destination in the country.”
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 sailing in 2017, a growth of nearly +5%. PortMiami, the global headquarters for the “big three” of the cruising industry: Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines and soon to be joined by MSC; 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 in October 2018. Similarly, Norwegian Cruise Line is set to build a landmark terminal in PortMiami to open in fall 2019 in time for the arrival of the new ship the “Norwegian Encore”. 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.
At the core of the GMCVB’s marketing strategy is increasing visitors’ length of stay. In 2017, 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, and many more. The campaign encourages visitors to stay longer and explore Miami’s diverse neighborhoods to discover authentic and soul-stirring experiences.
Looking ahead, with the September opening of the new, $625 million reimagined Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC), the destination will once again welcome conventions that drive strong local economic impact. More than 20 conventions have already been booked in the new facility including the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) annual convention which will inaugurate the new venue in September 2018 followed by the CA Technology annual convention, committing 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.