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Front Page » Business & Finance » Miami Beach seeks to end tourism economic dependence

Miami Beach seeks to end tourism economic dependence

Written by on November 3, 2020
Miami Beach seeks to end tourism economic dependence

Miami Beach is a world-renowned tourist destination, but commissioners are hoping to shift the city’s economy away from dependence on this singular industry.

Covid, Hurricane Irma and the Zika virus are just some events within the past 15 years that have put a damper on visitation dollars, Commissioner Mark Samuelian said at a meeting Friday, and the city needs to find a way to diversify revenue streams.

In October’s Finance and Economic Resiliency Committee meeting, city staff presented an outline detailing multiple channels Miami Beach could explore as a means of generating economic stability outside of the tourism industry. In addition to strengthening new revenue streams, commissioners said, the city should also look to diversify its pull within the tourism industry by promoting arts, culture and daytime activation in addition to the famous nightlife.

John Woodruff, Miami Beach’s chief financial officer, explained to commissioners Friday that staff had sorted the possible revenue streams into multiple “buckets” to make discussion easier. Ideas explored, a commission memo said, included identifying new revenue streams, recruiting new businesses, transforming one-time funds into recurring revenue, increasing reserves and reducing costs.

In July, Mr. Woodruff told commissioners, the city approved a deal with Spectra Partnerships that would allow the company to manage sponsorship and naming rights for the city, including finding a sponsor for the Miami Beach Convention Center, hopefully generating another source of income. 

Business recruitment, he said, would also be vital and will be bolstered by Miami Beach’s efforts to incentivize Class A office space. A proposed amendment still being reviewed by the commission and planning board, Miami Today previously reported, would allow the development of buildings up to 75 feet high in areas of Sunset Harbor, Alton Road and Terminal Island, which would give developers enough floor-to-ceiling space to achieve the high ceilings that are in demand for Class A space.

Increasing reserves and insuring tourism revenue, Mr. Woodruff said, were also options staff considered. The city ultimately decided on a form of self-insurance for tourism revenue, he said, but a 2019 policy led to the generation of more reserve funds that ultimately helped the city through the Covid crisis.

“The Resort Tax Fund reserve policy,” the memo explained, “was increased from a goal of 3 months (2 month requirement) to a goal of 6 months (required amount would begin with 2 months and increase over time as a moving floor until it reaches 6 months). The Resort Tax Fund reserve at the beginning of FY 2020 was $15.2 million or 3 months.”

Commissioners asked Mr. Woodruff and staff to provide a more detailed memo in time for the committee’s next meeting Nov. 13, with the intent of continuing the discussion on reducing the city’s dependency on tourism.

Commissioner Ricky Arriola said Miami Beach should look at diversifying revenue within the tourism industry as well as outside of it. 

“How do we attract a different type of tourist?” he asked. Throughout the year, he continued, a goal should be to attract business people and families in addition to visitors looking for nightlife.

Mr. Samuelian added that in a new work-from-home world, Miami Beach could leverage its appeal as the ultimate destination to telecommute and work with hotels to promote this image. 

However, he said, the focus on driving business in Miami Beach couldn’t just be about tourism. 

“We’re always going to have the conversation around tourism and hospitality because that’s who we are,” he said. But city officials, he added, have to be intentional about focusing on and creating quantitative goals around other areas of the economy as well.

17 Responses to Miami Beach seeks to end tourism economic dependence

  1. Patrick Havris

    November 4, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    The main draw is Tourism.It has always been and it it always will be. You have to first repair the sidewalks and have towant highend merchants towant to come here. You donot have the high caliber of tourists now.Washinton Ave is a disgrace the city has a major homeless probiem. The glory days of the nightclubs Jackie Gleason Miami Vice The Model Industry are gone.Miami Beach is rundown.Don’t all the city officials see this

    • Fed Up NoBe Resident

      November 5, 2020 at 8:42 am

      I couldn’t agree more! These commissioners need to stop trying to change Miami Beach! This small handful of people are destroying the very fabric of our great city.

      If you want to fix things, stop spray painting all the sidewalks and leaving them marked up for years! Put real effort into the homeless problem! How about a REAL police presence on Collins/Washington, between 5th and Lincoln, to curtail the bad actors?!

      If the mayor and his goons cannot get the job done without trying to change everything cool about Miami Beach then they need to get the hell out and bring in some real thinkers!!

  2. Gerwyn Flax

    November 4, 2020 at 8:32 pm

    I agree. The entire street scape looks worn and grimy. Get rid of the pink sidewalks that are crumbling. Seems like each business does its own thing. No uniformity. Umbrellas are haphazard and are practically in the narrow street. Have a look at what Ft. Lauderdale has done with their beachfront businesses. It is always packed but much more orderly, yet it does not feel congested. High quality businesses would help to discourage the riff raff.

  3. Tee

    November 4, 2020 at 8:33 pm

    Giving a damn about the locals will be a start. Roads are awful, parking is ridiculously expensive, and the variety of activities are set up for visitors. Retailers ignore their locals. The city cares more about the tourist $$ than the people who live here

  4. John Driver

    November 4, 2020 at 11:33 pm

    I strongly agree with Mr. Havris. class A infrastructure attracts class A businesses and tourists.

  5. Patrick Geiger

    November 5, 2020 at 5:24 am

    Crime is rampant, MB is a nasty dirty cesspool, NYC with palm trees.
    I warn family and tourists to stay away, especially after dark.

  6. Aretha

    November 5, 2020 at 8:11 am

    It is about time Miami Beach has this conversation. Miami Beach have to be open minded about allowing new businesses, innovative, clean air, family-friendly, day-friendly businesses to do business on Miami Beach. I love the tourism and hospitality of Miami Beach, but let’s diversity it. We have to add culture, art, healthy, high-end activities.
    Why is Re’sCycling Meet & Greet Tours not running on Miami Beach anymore? That Bike was beautiful, fun, an eye catcher, clean open air exercise, professionally ran, and most importantly it was an activation for the Beach! It bought customers and advertising directly to Miami Beach businesses. FUN AND SAFE!

  7. John Ciaccio

    November 5, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Great. Add office space to an area with limited expensive parking space and horrible traffic. Totally agree on terrible roads.Homeless population. Miami beach needs serious renovation all around. Preserve some of the art deco and renovate the rest.

  8. Javier perez

    November 5, 2020 at 11:25 am

    As a local resident i could tell you that one of the reasons i keep away from Miami beach is the so called nightlife is not what it was years ago, is a totally different crowd, the atmosphere is thuggish and frankly theres plenty of places to have fun without worriyng about fights breaking out, change the culture and you will get a much different tourism that can actually bring money in.

    • Joel R

      November 5, 2020 at 4:12 pm

      Javier, you are right on the spot about the night life. I visited a couple of months back and I didn’t even got off the car with the family. I drove back home.

  9. Louis

    November 5, 2020 at 11:43 am

    I’m in complete agreement Keith Mr. Harris above.
    Focus on your strong points which is Sun and a Fun, clean up the homeless situation, people are also
    Coming here for some of the tax breaks, and do something to support the a Condo and Hotel Industry.
    Keep the streets safe, so there are few if any crime stories in the newspapers and on TV.
    Get some PSA announcements from local celebrities going to, so that’s a stsrt

  10. Luciana Nicoli

    November 5, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    I remember the time when Ocean drive was a peacefully charming street., Unfortunately today it feels dirty, loud,crowded and cheap. Same with Lincoln road. Please do something before it’s too late

  11. The real south beach

    November 5, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    They need to fire that hillbilly Mafia at City Hall, everybody is sick and tired of them ALL of them.
    Some people forget what made Miami and South Beach famous. It’s drugs. To the ones that don’t know or refuse to except that as the reality,
    I’ve lived and worked in the world’s best beach tourist destinations. And South Beach lost it’s cool since the A list crowd slowly left,and now nobody wants to visit, because you can’t even play with your kids in the Park without Park rangers stopping by to annoy you. Who wants that on vacation??? NOBODY that’s who.
    Whenever we get people in City Hall that knows,and has traveled to other world popular beach destinations , instead of only Florida beaches. They will fully understand that people come to drink, swim in the ocean,do drugs,and have lots of sex,and go home .Its that simple,if they can’t come to terms with that. God be with

  12. Dean

    November 5, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Highly attractive Beach towns all across America are facing or has faced what Miami Beach is going through. It’s not the “culture”, that will drive change. It’s just the simple fact that no one wants to pay the absorbant prices just to be on a beach. Families aren’t coming here because a lot of restaurants have horrible service and super high prices for a less than average product. How come this isn’t ever addressed by us locals??
    We need to diversify our economy because we aren’t good at tourism anymore.

  13. Jeff

    November 5, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Build some pickleball courts. The sport is blowing up all over Florida. We need some pickleball courts in Flamingo Park. It will bring a decent crowd.

  14. Oscar

    November 12, 2020 at 7:24 am

    Is the city commission out of their minds or just out and out blind? Do they not see the cesspool that miami beach south of 15th street become? Attracting inner city hoods from Philadelphia, Newark, Atlanta is the major problem. It needs to be cleaned up. The sidewalks on Ocean Drive need to stop looking like a 3rd world country begging tourists to come eat. There is a homeless problem due to being a sanctuary city led by Mayor Gelber. Washington ave is a disgrace. Stores boarded up, dirty, Marijuana smell everywhere.

  15. J Man

    November 23, 2020 at 1:13 am

    I hadn’t been to South Beach in 10 years, went there with my husband a week ago and could not believe my eyes. The entire area between 5th and Lincoln was la weed smoking ghetto. I couldn’t believe my eyes, how much the tourist demographic had changed. It was very disappointing, we won’t be back, North Beach is where it is now, or Broward County. Airbnb needs to be made legal, tourist don’t want to stay in BIG hotels, they want the private condo experience for vacation rental. Miami Beach has gone downhill and the hole is only getting bigger! Good luck!