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MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) –The South Florida economy rises and falls with tourism.

Local tourism promoters are smiling right now because 2010 looks like a year of rebounding growth amidst national and global downturns.

For the first nine months of this year tourism bosses say hotel occupancy in Greater Miami was up eight percent over the same period last year. The average daily room rate: up nearly three percent.

In the Greater Fort Lauderdale tourism market 2010 hotel occupancy is up nearly four percent, but the average daily room rate is off slightly. It is down two percent.

William Talbert, head of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, says that one half of the Greater Miami’s tourism business comes from international visitors.

Those numbers make him optimistic.

“We have had double digit increases from South America. From Brazil (we are) up 16 percent, from Argentina a 12 percent increase in our number of visitors,” Talbert said.

Tourists Dawn Herd is visiting with her family and says South Beach is a welcome change from the chilly weather they have back home in Washington State.

“We have beaches in Washington but the sand here is gorgeous. It feels good between your toes,” said Herd.

NASCAR sees potential gold in those white sands. It revved up for a big beach concert Thursday night ahead of NASCAR championship racing in Homestead this weekend. Greater Miami tourism bosses remain confident that they are on pace to beat 2009 numbers that saw 12 million visitors pour $16 billion into the local economy.

It all adds up to a reminder—sun and fun is serious business year round in the bid to keep our economic engine humming.


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