Miami Proves Resilient During a Year of Headwinds

Overnight visitors to the Greater Miami area spent a record-breaking $26 billion while traveling in the destination from September 2016 to August 2017—a 2 percent increase over the same time period of the previous year. That’s according to research released earlier this month by the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB).

The number of overnight visitors reached a record 15.9 million during the period of September 2016 through August 2017, representing a 0.5 percent increase for the same time period a year before. Additionally, hospitality sector jobs increase by 3.9 percent. Demand for the destination grew by 1.8 percent with hotels selling more room nights compared to the same time for the previous year.

Multiple headwinds faced the destination in 2017 including the Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) being off-line for the $615 million reimagined expansion project set to be completed in September 2018. Due to the construction, the MBCC has been unable to host large-scale conventions that typically drive strong economic impact. Increased competition for the local hotel industry has proved challenging due to an incremental 2,109 rooms coming online in the past twelve months through August 2017. Despite the challenges to the hotel industry, demand for the destination remains strong with hotels selling 1.8 percent more rooms for twelve months through September 2017 compared to the same time the previous year.


International travelers fueled Miami’s tourism industry growth in those twelve months, according to the GMCVB research. Total international overnight visitors into Miami grew by 3.1 percent fueled by growth in other markets such as Germany (14.1 percent), Argentina (10.5 percent), and Colombia (5.9 percent) for twelve months through August 2017. International arrivals at Miami International Airport (MIA) were up by 1.2 percent over a previous record-breaking year. More than 96 percent of overnight visitors to Greater Miami arrived by air.

“Miami welcomes the highest percentage of international visitors than any other destination in the country and while international visitation to the U.S. is down as a whole, Miami’s international numbers are up,” said William D. Talbert, III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “In a year of hurricanes, international market fluctuations, a convention center under renovation, Zika, extensive new hotel room inventory, and all the challenges that could devastate a destination, Greater Miami and the beaches continues to show growth. That speaks to the Miami brand’s resiliency and nods to why more than ever, we will continue global marketing programs to protect and grow our market share.”

PortMiami also helped drive tourism, reporting a record-breaking 5.3 million passengers sailing from Miami between October 2016 and September 2017. PortMiami’s downtown position provides cruise passengers with direct access to hotels, shopping, dining, and attractions, encouraging visitors to stay longer in the area.

This year, the GMCVB launched the new “Found in Miami” marketing program, an active domestic and international advertising and destination branding campaign that speaks to the destination’s authentic travel experiences and calls on travelers to stay longer and explore Miami’s diverse neighborhoods to discover authentic experiences. The GMCVB utilized the “Found in Miami” campaign as a platform to push a “Hotels First” initiative, positioning hotels as the focal point to a visitor’s vacation. The strategic imperative also gave rise to the first-ever “Miami Hotel Month” that launched in June, providing visitors with discounts and hotel promotions.