By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Despite the faltering bed tax numbers, Miami-Dade tourism officials have said that their multi-platform media campaign “MIAMILAND” worked in bringing tourists into the county’s hotels during the pandemic.

“Getting tourists to come back in a safe and responsible way is critical for us all in the community,” said Rolando Aedo, Chief Operating Officer of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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CBS4 has tracked the COVID impact on hotel occupancy. Using the bed tax as a barometer of how many people have stayed in hotels, the last four months of 2020 showed a decrease of approximately 50 to 60 percent compared to the year before.

Tourism officials say it could have been worse without the MIAMILAND campaign.

“Yes, the decline is 50%. We look at it, would it have been worse if we had not implemented the programs we had,” said Aedo.

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The MIAMILAND campaign promoted South Florida’s outdoors as an attraction. The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau made use of a $5 million grant to make it happen. The message was spread on digital media, traditional television and cable, and billboards throughout the Southeast.

“There are companies that specialize tracking, that do in fact track advertising from the moment of when customers are exposed and follow that customer’s journey up to the moment of booking,” said Aedo.

Based on that information, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau said they had attracted almost 160-thousand hotel bookings which generated $100 million in hotel revenue. They claim the actual occupancy of the hotels was higher than the bed tax numbers indicated because hotels were cutting room rates to encourage business.

“The hotels are adjusting their room rates to make it more attractive to come. So when you look at that resort tax collection, as you know, it is applied against the total rate of that room, ” said Aedo. “That’s where we see a little of the deeper drop off of the room taxes.”

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Tourists who stay in hotels and eat in restaurants generate up to 40 percent of the sales tax in the county which helps pay for services that keep cities and the county running.