Industry funds Miami tourism strategic plan
By Scott Blake
Officials and consultants will study the state of local tourism in coming months to determine how South Florida's signature industry might be retooled to help ensure future success.
The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau has hired consultants to assist in development of a five-year strategic plan for the area's visitor industry.
"We want to do this in a thoughtful way," said William Talbert III, bureau president and CEO. "We're starting this project without any preconceived notions."
The bureau has hired accounting and professional services firm Ernst & Young's office in Miami, in partnership with tourism marketing firm MMGY Global, to do the study with the goal of completing it by January.
The updated study comes as local tourism is enjoying some momentum for growth this year.
The number of jobs in Miami-Dade County's leisure and hospitality sector grew to 115,100 in May, up 2.6% from 112,200 in May 2011. That outpaced the county's overall job growth rate of 1.6% during that period, according to the latest state employment statistics available.
Meanwhile, passenger arrivals at Miami International Airport were up 7.6% from January through May from the same period last year, according to a recent bureau report.
Greater Miami's hotel industry also has posted stronger numbers.
In each month from January through May, the industry's revenue per available room — a key performance measure calculated by multiplying a hotel's average daily room rate by its occupancy rate — was above levels from January through May last year, according to Smith Travel Research, which tracks the hospitality industry.
One of the first objectives of the bureau's study will be to define exactly what it should accomplish. Officials already have some general ideas.
The bulk of the study is expected to look at how to maximize use of the area's tourism assets and the potential for developing new "product offerings." The study also will look new marketing possibilities and approaches.
"We'll be looking at what we want to be and how do we get there," Mr. Talbert added. "We need to look at how to distinguish ourselves from the competition."
Among assets likely to be addressed: Miami International, Port Miami, the area's highway system, the area's expanded public transit connections, and increased activity in downtown Miami.
Potential future assets that could be addressed include the proposed expansion of the Miami Beach Convention Center or perhaps the potential for building another convention center downtown.
Officials also mentioned the ongoing Museum Park project, which will feature museums along Biscayne Bay, as a potential point of interest in the study.
"We'll look at: How do we extend visitors' stay?" said Rolando Aedo, bureau senior vice president of marketing and tourism. "We could even look at things like: How do we connect downtown to the Everglades?"
"It's good to have more tourists here," Mr. Talbert added, "but it's also good to have tourists [that are already coming here] stay longer."
The bureau has allotted $300,000 to $400,000 for the study.
The study will be done with the Miami-Dade Beacon Council's One Community One Goal job creation initiative in mind, Mr. Talbert said.
The initiative this year cited tourism as one of seven local industries targeted for future job growth.
Mr. Aedo said the study will identify partners that the bureau and others in tourism can work with, including Miami-Dade County government, to promote the industry and provide new offerings.
The process, he added, will involve a series of public meetings around Miami-Dade County to field ideas about how to improve local tourism, and ideas will be welcomed from "anyone who has a stake in the industry."
To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e -Miami Today, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.