By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There is worry and concern among Florida’s tourism industry which saw a nearly 32-percent drop in visitors during the third quarter compared to the same period last year, according to numbers released by Visit Florida.

The long range impact is a short fall in revenue to fund the state budget. Now, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau is getting out the word that South Florida is open for business in a unique way.

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It has launched a new TV and social media campaign with a message designed to try and lure COVID concerned tourists back to Miami.

The pitch is a bit different than usual because of the different times.

It doesn’t emphasize the glamour and the fast action, but instead focuses on the outdoors, the fresh air and warm water. And it is aimed right at people in the southeast U.S. who have been cooped up by the pandemic.

“They want to get out. They want to get away,” explained William Talbert, President and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.


The campaign is called “Miami Shines.”

The media ads are part of an overall strategy that guides tourists and locals alike to well-known attractions including the beaches, national parks, the Everglades, local neighborhoods, and hotels and restaurants with vacation specials in order to try and prime the economic pump that has been pummeled by COVID-19.

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“Five million dollars of CARES money for this, for the MIAMILAND project, because they understand that the travel business has been the most hurt and if we are going to recover, if this community is going to recover, get people back working you need to get customers to stay in the hotels,” said Talbert.

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According to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism industry saw a nearly 32 percent drop in visitors during the third quarter of this year. Local hotel occupancy has dipped. At one point it was worse than just after Hurricane Andrew. People aren’t flying either but they are starting to drive a little but it’s still very slow for hotel operators with empty rooms.

“They are creeping back up, we get reports every day, but they are now 30-35% occupancy and on the weekend if you ask hoteliers on the weekend they are getting near pretty full on the weekend. It is the middle of the week that is an issue,” said Talbert.

The will the great pictures of South Florida’s great outdoors help bring back the tourism numbers?

“Outdoors is like healthy, remember the rules now, don’t be inside, so this is perfect,” said Talbert.

Unfortunately, the tourism numbers release came Thursday, the same day the CDC updated COVID-19 recommendations to advise against traveling to visit family and friends during the Thanksgiving holiday period.

The CDC guidance proposed a Thanksgiving in which people would celebrate with others who live in their households.

The AAA auto club has projected 2.76 million Floridians will travel a substantial distance for Thanksgiving, down from 2.91 million a year ago.

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