The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) announced a record-breaking 16.5 million overnight visitors in 2018, up +3.5% compared to 2017, along with 6.8 million Day Trippers for a total visitor number of 23.3 million. The record-breaking visitor volume led to an economic impact of nearly $18 billion, fueled mostly by international visitors who contributed an estimated +54% of the total economic impact. In 2018, the travel and hospitality sector employed a record 142,100 people while Greater Miami’s hotel market ranked in the top 10 among the top 25 hotel markets in the U.S. according to STR. Greater Miami and the Beaches broke another record by selling a record 15.6 million hotel room nights in 2018, representing an increase of +1.5% compared to 2017. This speaks to the strong demand for the destination.
The International overnight visitor market experienced the highest rate of growth, +4.1%in 2018 compared to 2017 and contributed to the record-breaking overnight visitors. International visitors comprised 35% of the overnight market, with 5.8 million visitors, and contributed about 54% of the total visitor expenditure because of longer stays in the destination. Latin America remained a key feeder market in 2018, generating the top three countries of origin for overnight international visitors into Greater Miami: Brazil, Colombia and Argentina. Combined, these three countries delivered more than 20% of the international overnight visitors. Similarly, Latin America as a region represented 45%of the total overnight visitor. Domestic overnight visitors (not including Florida Residents) in 2018 represented 38% of the total overnight visitor market, with 6.2 million traveling to the Greater Miami area and representing 34% of visitor expenditures. New York City remained the largest domestic overnight market, contributing more than 1.2 millionvisitors or 20% of the total domestic overnight market.
This year, the GMCVB evolved its research methodology to include a more comprehensive analysis of the Florida Resident customer as well as the Day Tripper visitor. As a result, the 2018 Visitor and Industry Overview provides deeper and richer insights into Greater Miami’s travel and tourism industry than ever before. Research shows the Florida Resident is a unique customer, with 90% of this group driving into the destination in contrast to the International and Domestic customer. Because of the uniqueness of the Florida Resident, the GMCVB classified this group as its own segment – not to be included in the Domestic Customer profile. In segmenting Greater Miami’s visitor profile into three categories: International, Domestic and Florida Resident, the GMCVB is able to better evaluate the nuances of each market and create more laserfocused strategic sales and marketing programs to attract visitors to Greater Miami and Beaches. In 2018, the Florida Resident overnight visitor totaled 4.5 million or 27%of the overnight visitor segment and contributed $2 billion to the total tourism economic impact.
Also new to the GMCVB’s 2018 Visitor Profile is an analysis of the Day Tripper customer. This customer does not stay overnight in the destination, but delivers positive economic impact to the local community by shopping, dining or enjoying local museums and attractions in the area. In 2018, there were 6.8 million Day Trippers to Greater Miami. Florida Residents contributed the largest portion of Day Trippers, representing 2.8 million of the segment. Domestic and International Visitors can also be classified as Day Trippers when they fly in to other markets and drive into the Greater Miami area for the day. In 2018, the Domestic and International Day Tripper segments were of a similar size, 2.1 million from the domestic market and 1.9 million from international sources.
“International continues to be a priority market for Greater Miami while we see Greater Miami evolve as a preferred destination for Florida Residents and Day Trippers,” said William D. Talbert III, CDME, President and CEO of the GMCVB. “We are proud to offer our local industry partners the latest and most evolved standards for travel industry insights and research. This expanded methodology and approach provides our partners and the GMCVB with richer insights to create more targeted sales and marketing programs.”
Cruise travel as a reason to visit Greater Miami continues to grow, with more than one in 10 visitors traveling to the destination for a cruise. The increased interest in cruise travel supports the +12.5% increase in PortMiami passengers resulting in a recordbreaking 6 million cruise passengers in 2018. The GMCVB partners with PortMiami to create programs promoting the Cruise Capital of the World as well as pre and post cruising excursions throughout the destination. The GMCVB also continued strong partnerships with Miami International Airport (MIA) in 2018, welcoming new service from around the world including from Santa Marta, Colombia with VivaAir Colombia; Brasilia and Fortaleza, Brazil with GOL Lineas Aereas; and eight new American Airlines routes, among others. More than 22 million passengers arrived at MIA in 2018 resulting in a record-breaking year for MIA arrivals, a +2% increase over 2017. In 2018, nearly two-thirds of overnight visitors to Greater Miami arrived by air – solidifying the importance of MIA to the local tourism eco-system. In 2018, the GMCVB continued its “Hotels First” initiative, positioning hotels front and center in global branding and marketing efforts – increasing the desirability and demand for Greater Miami’s hotel market. In 2018, Greater Miami and the Beaches had the highest rate of growth in ADR (average daily rate) among Top 25 U.S. Hotel markets. The +6.1% increase over 2017 yielded an average ADR of $199.35 in 2018. The destination ended the year with an average Hotel Occupancy rate of 76.7%, an increase of +0.3% over 2017. The changes in Occupancy and ADR resulted in RevPAR (revenue per available room) of $152.81, netting an overall increase of +6.3% for Greater Miami and the Beaches. Similar to ADR, RevPAR grew substantially and ranked #2 in rate of growth for the year among all Top 25 U.S. Hotel Markets.
The demand for the Miami and Beaches brand remained strong in 2018 with a +4.2%increase in hotel inventory, reaching a total of 57,415 rooms in 2018. Greater Miami and the Beaches broke another record in 2018 by selling 15.6 million hotel room nights in 2018, representing an increase of +1.5% compared to the previous year. In 2018, Greater Miami and the Beaches ranked among the top 10 in all three major categories (Occupancy, ADR and RevPAR) when compared against the Top 25 U.S. Hotel Markets by STR.
The hotel and travel industry’s success is directly linked to destination marketing programs that help drive demand and increase the number of visitors to Greater Miami and the Beaches. In 2018, the GMCVB continued its marketing and branding campaign “Found in Miami”, a comprehensive domestic and international advertising and destination campaign that speaks to the destination’s authentic travel experiences. The campaign calls on travelers to go deeper into the destination and discover the cultural riches of Greater Miami’s neighborhoods. The campaign encourages visitors to stay longer and explore Miami’s diverse neighborhoods to discover authentic experiences.
“Our neighborhood marketing strategy encourages visitors to stay longer in Greater Miami, further spreading the wealth of tourism,” said Bruce Orosz, GMCVB Board Chair. “Whether it’s a Day Tripper who comes into the destination to experience a neighborhood for a few hours, or an international visitor staying for several days – Greater Miami’s authenticity is a strong tourism driver and attracts visitors from all over the world.”
Looking ahead, with the recent opening of the newly reimagined $625 million Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) and approval for the construction of a new convention headquarter hotel, the GMCVB is once again booking convention business and driving strong local economic impact generated by the meetings industry. The GMCVB will continue strategic marketing campaigns aimed at the meetings industry to include sales, public relations, advertising and digital programs to attract citywide conventions to the destination.
The meetings industry, along with the leisure side of Greater Miami’s tourism business, is currently undergoing close evaluation during the GMCVB’s strategic plan process entitled DestinationMiami. The GMCVB’s strategic plan process is an action-oriented and forward-thinking plan designed to address critical issues for Greater Miami’s travel and tourism industry. The DestinationMiami strategic plan will closely evaluate Greater Miami’s assets and challenges in order to develop a roadmap to drive the travel and tourism industry forward over the next five years. The process will analyze Greater Miami’s tourism industry trends and create a plan to keep the destination’s position as a highly desired, top global brand in an ever-shifting competitive marketplace.
For more information about the GMCVB’s Strategic Plan initiative, visit www.DestinationMiami.org.