Tourism Numbers Reviewed For Industry Professionals
Written by Candice Ventra on November 2, 2000
By Candice Ventra
The president and CEO of the Marriott hotel chain congratulated local tourism officials for attracting new high quality hotels during the past year and urged them to concentrate on redeveloping South Beach in the future.
Speaking recently at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s annual meeting, J.W. Marriott said he considers South Beach to be among the best of what Miami has to offer in the visitor industry. But he said the Lincoln Road Mall area has lost some of the appeal it once had.
"Bring back Lincoln Road," he said. "So it can be the Fifth Avenue of the South as it was when I was a child."
Mr. Marriott said that as a child he spent family vacations on South Beach.
He also praised the hospitality officials and community leaders across the county for bringing new hotels to the entire area. In one year, Mr. Marriott said, his company will have some 5,000 rooms in Miami-Dade County, including new rooms in three soon-to-be completed Ritz Carlton brand hotels.
"We are definitely bullish on Miami and Miami Beach," Mr. Marriott said at last week’s meeting, held in the month-old JW Marriott Hotel on Brickell Avenue.
Tourism professionals lauded their own accomplishments of the past year at the meeting, which signaled the end of another year of promoting Miami and Miami Beach as a tourist destination.
William Talbert, bureau president & CEO, briefed the audience on the tourism industry’s impact on the local economy.
"The visitor industry employs more than 121,000 people," Mr. Talbert said. "It’s responsible for $525 million in state sales tax — a third of all sales tax spent in this county."
The visitor industry, he said, is also responsible for creating nearly 340,000 full-time direct and indirect jobs in Greater Miami.
Visitors to Greater Miami generated $80 million in tourist-related taxes here in 1999, according to bureau numbers, as visitors spent about $12.7 billion in the area.
Adolfo Henriques, bureau chairman and president of Union Planters Bank of Florida, commended the bureau and its group of volunteer professionals for their work over the past year. He also announced new members chosen for the bureau’s executive committee.
Members for 2000-01 include Michael Lewis, editor and publisher of Miami Today; Maria Sastre, vice president of guest services for Royal Caribbean International, and Eric Knowles, director of marketing in Atlantic-Caribbean sales for American Airlines.
New board members were appointed as well. They include Chris Aldieri, general manager for Hyatt Regency Miami; Michael Aller, tourism and convention director for the City of Miami Beach; Dorothy Baker, president of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, and Manny Corral, area director of marketing for the Ritz Carlton Hotel.
For the new year Mr. Henriques said the bureau must continue to aggressively market Miami and Miami Beach as a premiere destination.
"No matter how good our product may be," he said, "you are not going to sell something unless you market it."
He cited a future joint $9 million marketing campaign with the bureau and the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County’s economic development arm, as an example of increasing the bureau’s marketing drive.
The two entities will combine efforts with Coconut Grove-based advertising agency Turkel Schwartz & Partners to promote the destination as a good place to do business and take a vacation.