Tax Revenues Signal Tourism Rebound
By Shannon Pettypiece
Visitor-industry revenues show local tourism is steadily rebounding and approaching pre-9/11 marks.
Resort-tax tallies in Miami-Dade County are halfway back from their 9/11 plunge, according to statistics through September from the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. While 2003 revenues are still down 6.1% from pre-9/11, visitor dollars are up 6.5% during the same 2002 January-to-September period.
Resort fees include Miami Beach’s 3% hotel and 2% restaurant taxes; Bal Harbour’s 4% room and 2% restaurant taxes and a countywide 2% tax on rooms outside those cities and Surfside.
Miami Beach shows the most recovery with hotel-restaurant tax revenue from January to August only 1% lower than in 2001, said bureau President Bill Talbert.
"We think we are going to have a strong season and we had a very strong summer, and next summer looks pretty good as well," Mr. Talbert said. "We keep getting better than the previous year."
The Beach’s resort tax goes to the city’s general fund, visitor costs and Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. From county revenue, the bureau gets 60% and the City of Miami and the county’s cultural affairs department each get 20%.
Resort-tax revenue does not include the countywide Convention Development Tax or the Miami Beach penny tax.
Several months this year were especially strong in Miami Beach compared to last year, with a 26.4% increase in September, Mr. Talbert said.
Because the 1990s were a historic high for the tourism industry, observers say pre-9/11 levels won’t be reached until 2006.
"It is going to be a small and gradual recovery," said Bruce Ford of Lodging Econometrics. "Post-9/11 we were still falling through the beginning of this year."