VCA Works for Miami Beach

By Elsie Sterling Howard….

Elsie Sterling Howard, Chairman of the Visitor and Convention Authority

Over the past decade the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (MBVCA) has continually committed funds, energy and planning to strengthen the tourist experience in Miami Beach. It is our commitment to quality of experience that pushes us beyond the standard. Miami Beach is very lucky to have a VCA—established by State Law and automatically funded with a portion of the hotel resort taxes, mandated to reinvest in the tourism industry that is the lifeblood of the city. Because we all enjoy the abundance that increased tourism brings, the MBVCA encourages residents and tourists to enjoy the terrific and diverse events and programs that come our way – because we live or vacation in one of the world’s most beautiful resorts.

In the past we have reached out beyond simply funding the grants that are so important to tourism because we have seen – and filled – specific needs. Years ago, we launched the Miami Beach Wayfinding – which resulted in the terrific new blue signage throughout the city. We also worked to establish a certificate program for customer service training citywide which we still fund. Many of the special events and programs that make Miami Beach such a terrific and fun experience for tourists and residents have been started by the MBVCA, including the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. And this year the MBVCA will invest time and money in several new initiatives that should make our community a better place to be.

You may want to participate in “Miami Beach Visual Memoirs”, a platform for residents (and visitors too) who want to share their memories about Miami Beach. Scheduled to debut in June, contributors will be able to sign up to be videotaped to share their personal stories. And we want all your stories—there are ‘no holds barred’. Watch the news for a launch date and for specifics about registration, or, after June 1st, call our offices at 305.673.7050.

This past April 8th, the MBVCA sponsored the first in a series of meetings to discuss IT (Information Technology) opportunities for Miami Beach. In the new world of apps, tweets and high tech, we want to determine what visitors and residents want and need… and then we plan to make IT happen in and for Miami Beach.

The MBVCA will also take a leadership role in marketing the City of Miami Beach by hiring a marketing and communications company, based locally, with international reach. We expect to connect more positively to local, national and international media, to production companies and cable. We will also use our new marketing arm to help recruit new mega-events that will bring more tourists to our city, and will invigorate the experiences of our residents at the same time.

The MBVCA also continues to support the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Tourism and its committees, including the very active Lincoln Road Beautification Sub-Committee. The Lincoln Road group (which includes merchants, hoteliers, city leadership, administrators, the Police department, Code Enforcement and members of the legal department) has made progress on issues that impact Lincoln Road, particularly at the east end. Successes include new panhandling laws, new signage “for your protection” (available to all business owners). This committee, under the leadership of Shawn Hauver, meets monthly and will continue to do so until all issues have been successfully addressed.

Thanks to the terrific professional staff which includes Grisette Roque Marcos and Eileen de la Cuesta and our newest member of the team Marian Irizarry, the volunteer MBVCA is able to accomplish what we hope are great things for our city and for tourism.

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