What Recession? Miami-Dade Tourism Soars

MIAMI (CBS4) – In a down economy, tourism in Miami-Dade County bucked the odds in 2010 setting records in every area, according to figures released by the Greater Miami Convention and visitors Bureau.

The numbers are impressive:

  • Greater Miami and the Beaches hosted a record 12.6 million overnight visitors
  • Tourists spent a record $18.8 Billion on lodging, food, shopping, transportation and entertainment
  • Visitors generated a record $127 million in tourist-related taxes
  • 29% of state sales taxes collected in the county were paid by tourists

The big year pumped renewed life into the area’s life blood.

“Ultimately, that meant we added jobs, and in this economy, in this community with tourism being the number one industry, job creation is one of our top priorities,” said Rolando Aedo, executive vice-president of the visitors bureau.

Aedo credited the “most comprehensive marketing effort ever” for the record tourism year. The marketing was aided by the BP oil spill. BP gave Miami-Dade $1.25 million to help advertise its pristine beaches.

Aedo said new airline service to Miami International Airport – including new flights from Russia, Amsterdam and Brazil – also boosted the tourist numbers.

“Every time a new air route opens up to Miami, it’s like a new road being built to the city,” Aedo said.

Officials said Brazil became the area’s first ever “billion dollar” market, with more than 500,000 Brazilian visitors spending $1.1 billion here.

Ironically, the lousy economy helped boost the tourist economy.

“It’s so beautiful here,” said Femka Groot, a visitor from Holland on South Beach Thursday. “And it’s cheap.”

The weak U.S. dollar makes South Florida a cheap destination for international visitors.

“I bought a shirt here for 90 euros,” Groot said. “In Holland, they are 200 euros.”

Tourism was boosted, too, by increasingly popular events like the Art Deco Weekend, South Beach Wine and Food Festival, Miami Fashion Week, and the Art Basel exhibition.

“Luckily, we are in South Beach, and there is always going to be something to bring us people,” said Augusto Marenco, manager of the Sea Cafe on Ocean Drive.

Marenco said the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, which attracts thousands of hip-hop fans, will provide a big bump at a time when business tends to flatten out after the busier winter season.

Miami has also benefited from the success of the Miami Heat basketball team.

“It has added to the allure of the city,” said Ginny Gutierrez, a media relations specialist with the visitors bureau.

If 2010 was a good year, 2011 promises to be even better, according to the bureau. Figures for the first quarter show hotel occupancy up more than 11 percent over the same period last year.

More from Gary Nelson
  • marcopolo25@mac.com

    Time to buy is now! Miami is the place since you love it and so does Diane! Low rates…low prices! Beachfront…location, location, location!

    • Chuck

      You are a realtor. Realtors love to plug real estate on these comment posts. I recommend staying out of Miami Beach real estate until after the hurricane season. Additionally, Miami Beach is coming off peak-season and the mentality right now is that peak-season will continue for another month or two when it will very likely come to a screeching halt in 10 days.

  • deskboy

    Memorial Day?? When the wait staff is forced to come to work or lose their jobs. Order of fries and 4 forks, coming up!!!

    • Austin

      That is a stupid comment. We all have to work days we don’t want to. That is a point of a job.

      • Chuck

        Memorial Day used to be extremely dangerous & deskboy is correct. The police have a much better control of the situation now but I still advise people to avoid Miami Beach that weekend.

    • COCO


  • osama_lives

    It probably doesn’t hurt that everybody in South Florida festers on a taxpayer subsidy, and that Marxist immigrants are paid to invade. This is what happened to New York. You know what? When the middle class finally rejects the criminal Fed, you-all are going to be eating each other. The living will be jealous of the dead. Have a nice day!

    • sickofdems

      True that!

    • Iraq Vet

      The truth!

    • Jorge Samosa

      Does mental illness run in your family or is it just you?

  • DPSW

    Miami is perfect for foreign tourists because nobody there speaks English!

    • Niklas

      Actually, lots do but it’s still what I loved about Miami when I lived there. Chatted all day long with Cubans, Dominicans, South Americans, etc. Love the multi-culturalism of the area.

      • deskboy

        But still, you left.

      • Exiled Writer

        When over 80% of the city is Hispanic, it is hardly called multi-cultural. It’s Hispanicentric.

    • Dennis Clouser

      Miami is a thrid world armpit of a place!! Lived there 1.5 years and no desire to visit even for vacation.

      • Douglascz

        I lived there 25. Then I moved to a first world country. Costa Rica….been here almost seven. I didn’t say San Jose. I said Costa Rica.

  • Rose

    It’s only because illegals are invading this country on a daily basis and choose to vacation there.

    • Gigante

      Illegals are invading, and then vacationing? Yeah, that makes perfect. sense.

    • Niklas

      LOL!! So illegals are invading the US in order to go on vacation??
      Besides, illegal immigrants generally cannot go on many vacations, especially not ones that involve travel, simply because they work illegally and thus often under the minimum wage, paid for by US business that exploit the situation.

  • Camillus

    Hello!!! Do journalists think at all! Brasil is BOOMING, Panama as well…what Miami is benefiting from has NADA to do with the US economy…please, dont stretch this article into fantasy land.

    • Jaime

      Do readers read? No-one said the boom is because the USA economy, read the piece. That is unless Amsterdam, Russia and Brazil are among the 57 states. The article is clear.

      • Knight

        “…..are among the 57 states”

        Are you really Obama channeling?

        If so we want to see your so called Harvard scolastic records if they exist. BTW Mr. Obamba you should Google United States of America to find out how many states there really are. If you were born here you would know.

      • Layla

        Actually, there are 57 Islamic states.

    • Ron

      boy, you are a moron. Did you ever take econ 101? Oh, sorry, that’s right, you barely finished high school.

  • Colin

    She said that she bought “Uggs” for 90 euros, not “a shirt.”

  • BrettMichigan

    The wife and I vacationed there for the first time last summer and LOVED it. It was cheap and we will be going back. We are from Michigan and would like to spend Christmas there soon.

  • WaWaWa

    Oh course Florida will do exceptionally well, it’s a cheap tourist destination. People will spend a fraction in Florida of what they would normally spend overseas…

    • Alberto

      Not true. Cancun Mexico has better beaches and is cheaper than Miami. Plus if you speak Spanish, then you will benefit from additional price reductions since almost everything is marked up in Cancun. But the beaches are spectacular!!!

      • Tony

        And Cancun has the Mexican Cartel!

      • Gordo

        In America you can see re-enactments of old western gun fights. In Cancun you can see the real thing every day!

  • Joshinho Mederira

    We went to Footvolley event in April in South Beach … it was free and amazing international teams! Coming back next year!

  • Paul in FL

    The most underrated features of south Florida is the air quality. Being on a peninsula with wilderness (that’s what the ocean is) surrounding it, it has far better air than places like southern California, southern Europe, or the rest of the southern U.S., despite the high population. Even though it can be blazing hot, the skies are usually as blue as in the Rockies.

  • Warren

    all that extra tax money to the Dade county govt. and still they are going to lay off 1400 teachers.

    • RevolutionNow

      Right it’s Jackson Hospital where they are laying people off

  • Willy Makeit.

    Welcome to Miami – THUMP!!! (the sound of a visitor getting knocked on the head & robbed).

    • TransitDave

      So long as you aren’t taking stupid pills and don’t wander around the easily identifiable rough parts of town, you’ll be fine in Miami…Dumba++

  • FN Cee

    Weak dollar … Stronger foreign currencies equal more tourists for holiday destinations in the U.S. … other “destination locations” will have similar results … CA, HI and others …

  • billcrawford

    Officials said Brazil became the area’s first ever “billion dollar” market, with more than 500,000 Brazilian visitors spending $1.1 billion here.

    Not a white or black person in sight but a hell of a lot of hispanics as they now own miami along with the drugs and crime. It is not a spot I visit anymore.

    It is the old saying, that it is so busy no one goes there anymore and there is much truth in that. People that go there are not ones one would normally associate with.

    • Alberto

      Too bad for you. You are missing out. By the way, Hispanics come in all colors, black, white, and shades in between. If you ever traveled, you would stop yourself from making ignorant comments.

  • ZeuroTrashen

    But but but I thought that we, “ugly Americans”, were soo materialistic. Why are there so many Europeans coming to the US to shop and be amongst us, the “ugly Americans”? What happened, Europeans?

    • alberto

      The “ugly americans” has nothing to do with materialism. It has to do with us going to other countries and expecting to get everything we have here in our country. Rent “European Vacation” with Chevy Chase and you’ll understand the true meaning of ‘Ugly Americans”.

    • doug x

      Dude, why so negative. Just enjoy your life and relax.

  • Dennis

    Haulover Beach has something to do with it. I’m just saying…

  • Joe America

    The economy sux so bad that I just can’t believe this story is true. They only way to have had record people showing up that we stole all of the people who would have gone to the gulf for fear of the non existent BP oil on the beaches. Even then, there doesn’t seem to have been an economic bump that this story claims we have had.

  • hola

    no mention that it is now
    hollywood east. all the stars go there now

  • Tony

    A lot of Miami Haters in here! Too bad! Eat your heart out!

  • JerryP

    How come every visits ,but no one stays. Just like Cancun and Thailand.

  • Cody

    Miami is benefiting from people not going to Mexico but they are patting themselves on the back as if their marketing worked.

  • aubreyfarmer

    Having traveled all over the US, I must say Miami was a treat. The art deco buildings, the terrific Cuban food, the beautiful beaches. If it weren’t so crowded it would be even better.

  • Johnny

    I’ve lived in south Florida and happy to be out. The soaking humidity, the bugs, the flatness, the intense heat, the lighting capital of the U.S. it will get to you eventually. It’s impossible to remain there. I’ll take the warm dry desert air of Southern California any day.

  • Beth

    Would not live anywhere else but S FL !
    It’s beautiful here.

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