Weak Dollar Strong Latin American Economies Abroad Luring Foreigners To Miamidade
By Ashley D. Torres
The weak American dollar and the strength of foreign economies have combined to funnel more international visitors into Miami-Dade County this year.
Total foreign visitors from January to September rose 5.5% year over year to 4.496 million compared to 2009’s 4.26 million.
Brazilians have been one group benefiting from the weak dollar. As the Brazilian economy remains strong, said Manuel Lasaga, president of consulting firm StratInfo, and the nation’s currency rises, US travel has become cheaper.
Brazilian visitors rose most, 17%, from January to September, to 423,719 compared to 2009’s 362,153.
Tourists from Argentina and Colombia also rose, 13% and 11% respectively, as a result of strong economies.
"We’re basically exporting tourism," said J. Antonio Villamil, The Washington Economics Group’s principal advisor.
Canadian travelers, the county’s top foreign visitors, grew moderately, 6.5% year over year to 429,600 from January to September compared to 2009’s 403,300. Although Canada’s economy has weakened, Dr. Lasaga said, its financial problems were less severe than in the US, which accounts for the continued strength of Canadian tourists.
On the flip side, visitors from countries with weakened economies and depreciating currencies have declined.
Venezuela, the only Latin American country to see a decline of 1% in visitors this year, imposes exchange controls on residents, which limits money that can be exchanged for a foreign currency. These controls, Dr. Lasaga said, along with low oil prices and political uncertainty contributed to the drop of Venezuelan visitors to 240,271 compared to January to September 2009’s 242,698.
Weakened economies and the decline of the Euro have also been reflected in the drop of visitors from Germany and the United Kingdom.
German visitors dropped year over year 1.6% from January to September to 242,694, compared to 246,640 in 2009.
United Kingdom tourists saw the largest year-over-year decline among the county’s top ten markets for foreign visitors, falling 6% to 212,911 from January to September from 2009’s 226,501.
Nonetheless, Mr. Villamil said, the county’s 2011 foreign visitors will continue to rise, especially from those countries seeing economic growth.
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