By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami-Dade bed tax is a good indicator of the coronavirus impact on the hotel industry and South Florida tourism in general.  While there is an uptick in hotel room occupancy, the  short term picture is still not good.

In Miami, 96% of the tourists come to town through Miami International Airport. Last July, there were four million passengers in and out, but this July, only 900,000.

Coronavirus is killing South Florida tourism.

Hotels are being hit hard and that is reflected in the bed tax receipts which are generated by dollars paid for a hotel stay.

In March of this year, the pandemic started to impact Miami-Dade hotels which are down almost 60% from the previous year. April was down 88% from 2019, May was down 82%. June was slightly better but still down 64%.

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“What it reflects is the hotel industry in Miami-Dade county is in a cataclysmic state,” explained Scott Berman.

Berman tracks South Florida tourism trends for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“Unfortunately as we project this out through the rest of the summer and fall, I think we are going to see continued slow recovery, grind it out kind of pattern.”

Hotels have closed on the beach, there are large layoffs and owners are worried about making mortgage payments.

“Unfortunately we are going to see more hotels that are shuttered because owners are in a corner not able to meet obligations,” said Berman.

“This is not a Miami only issue, already in New York we have seen half a dozen hotels close for good.”

A recent Harris Poll notes 58% of leisure travelers are postponing vacations, opting for staycations this year and cruise ships not sailing are another blow to hotel occupancy.

“With the cruise lines shut down for now, they are not providing any business to the hotel industry.

Hotels are losing those cruise ship passengers who would arrive early for a few days in Miami.

“I think we are looking at another 6 to 12 months to see real signs of recovery,” said Berman.

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