MIAMI (CBS4) – As Congress runs out of time to reach a deal on the fiscal cliff, many people are concerned about what will happen in the new year.

Many local businesses fear tourism, a major economic engine in South Florida, could take a hit if the deadline passes without a solution.

On Miami Beach where people come from all over to spend their vacations and their cash, the thought of falling over the fiscal cliff is frightening. If taxes go up, some tourists say they’ll cut back on trips.

“You may not see us out for two to three years,” said Velvet Phillips who was visiting from Houston.

Hamlet Reyes said he’ll keep visiting the beach but he’ll have to cut back.

“I will not stop coming to Miami because I love the city, but not as much as I used to,” said Reyes.

Jerry Libbin, president of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, said he’s hopeful there will be a deal in Washington, but if there isn’t, it could be a concern.

“Tourism is our number one industry so it’s a huge impact potentially,” said Libbin. “When people have uncertainty they’re much more likely to save and cut back on discretionary spending and that would be certainly travel and tourism.”

Libbin said 2012 was a strong year for tourism thanks in part to Miami Beach being such a well-known tourist destination.

“We tend to do better than others. We go down last and come back first,” said Libbin.

Tourism isn’t the only South Florida industry that could get hit hard.

“We’ll see small business taxes go up, it’s going to see working class middle class families’ taxes go up, so we’re going to see less investment, less jobs, being hired. It’s going to slow down our construction industry because they’re going to put taxes on short sales,” said congress-elect Joe Garcia.

Garcia, who will be sworn in January 3rd, said if this Congress can’t solve the fiscal cliff problem he’s hopeful the new Congress can.


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