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.

Comments (58)
  1. says:

    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!

    1. Chuck says:

      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.

  2. deskboy says:

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

    1. Austin says:

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

      1. Chuck says:

        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.

  3. osama_lives says:

    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!

    1. sickofdems says:

      True that!

    2. Iraq Vet says:

      The truth!

    3. Jorge Samosa says:

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

  4. DPSW says:

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

    1. Niklas says:

      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.

      1. Exiled Writer says:

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

      2. deskboy says:

        But still, you left.

    2. Dennis Clouser says:

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

      1. Douglascz says:

        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.

  5. Rose says:

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

    1. Niklas says:

      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.

    2. Gigante says:

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

  6. Camillus says:

    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.

    1. Jaime says:

      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.

      1. Knight says:

        “…..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.

      2. Layla says:

        Actually, there are 57 Islamic states.

    2. Ron says:

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

  7. Colin says:

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

  8. BrettMichigan says:

    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.

  9. WaWaWa says:

    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…

    1. Alberto says:

      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!!!

      1. Tony says:

        And Cancun has the Mexican Cartel!

      2. Gordo says:

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

  10. Joshinho Mederira says:

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

  11. Paul in FL says:

    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.

  12. Warren says:

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

    1. RevolutionNow says:

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

  13. Willy Makeit. says:

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

    1. TransitDave says:

      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++

  14. FN Cee says:

    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 …

  15. billcrawford says:

    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.

    1. Alberto says:

      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.

  16. ZeuroTrashen says:

    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?

    1. alberto says:

      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”.

    2. doug x says:

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

  17. Dennis says:

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

  18. Joe America says:

    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.

  19. hola says:

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

  20. Tony says:

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

  21. JerryP says:

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

  22. Cody says:

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

  23. aubreyfarmer says:

    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.

  24. Johnny says:

    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.

  25. Beth says:

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

  26. Kenneth Smith says:

    I wonder how well the economy is doing in Cleveland without LaBron James?

  27. doug x says:

    Because of the same losers that try and beat down every good piece of news, I hardly like reading the comments section anymore. In every positive article a few losers have to try and bring people down. Get a life losers. This is a good thing.

  28. Mike Weston says:

    Miami is popular because of the hit tv show Burn Notice on USA Network.

  29. nm says:

    he bought a shirt for 90 euros? WOW I buy 5 shirts for that much.

    1. Raymond Hietapakka says:

      I buy MINT merino wool and silk sweaters at the local thrift shop for 5 Euro.

  30. kevin says:

    If they never leave , are they still tourists? If they are spending thier welfare checks and food stamps is it really a boom? Could any of you “tourist” send me a few pictures of the vacation I’m paying for? Where will the next great vacation spot be ..Newark?