Greater Miami has worked hard to become a top tourist destination, and it shows | Opinion

by William D Talbert III

According to a leading events publication, Biz Bash, three of the nation’s top events are taking place in Greater Miami and the Beaches within the next four months: Art Basel Miami Beach, South Beach Wine & Food Festival and Super Bowl LIV. In the case of the Super Bowl, Miami will welcome the big game for a record 11th time — cementing our position as the community to have hosted the most Super Bowls throughout the history of the National Football League.

Marquee events are tourism drivers — filling our hotel rooms, restaurants, attractions and shops —

bringing with them the economic impact that keeps our community thriving. Greater Miami’s lure as a major event town in many ways is because of the vision of county and city leaders who have invested in the necessary tourism infrastructure.

The newly renovated Miami Beach Convention Center is the perfect example. It soon will have a connected headquarter hotel. This type of investment is crucial to preserving and increasing our share of tourism business while keeping us competitive as a destination.

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, through its global sales and marketing programs focusing on people and places, including our multicultural neighborhoods, knows that destination marketing is a highly competitive landscape. Today’s global customer has more options than ever. Whether it is a citywide convention booking thousands of room nights or a party of one looking for a weekend getaway, the world is getting smaller, and the travel options are vast.

Greater Miami has earned its rightful position as a leading global travel brand, as evidenced by the destination’s record-breaking year-over-year tourism numbers. In 2018, we welcomed 23 million visitors, who generated an economic impact of $18 billion. We must not take this success for granted. The stakes are too high. We cannot lose ground on the momentum we’ve gained.

The travel industry is not just a job creator. It also creates non-exportable careers.

The industry’s impact goes beyond strong employment figures. In 2018, travel spending in Miami-Dade County generated $1.25 billion in total tax revenue, delivering crucial funding for public services that help all residents in the community. Without the state and local taxes generated by tourism, each Florida household would pay as much as $1,500 in additional taxes just to maintain the current level of government services.

The GMCVB just released a new strategic plan, a five-year road map outlining the steps necessary to ensure the future of Greater Miami’s travel industry. (www.DestinationMiami.org). We hosted 15 town hall meetings throughout the county, representing the most comprehensive community engagement initiative in the history of the organization. We heard directly from residents and business, government and community leaders.

In the coming years, as the world continues to travel to Greater Miami and the Beaches, the GMCVB will focus on growing tourism responsibly while balancing the needs of the greater community. Our marketing programs are introducing travelers to neighborhoods they have yet to discover — sharing the benefits of tourism throughout our community. Another GMCVB priority is investing in small-business training programs so that all neighborhoods in Greater Miami are better prepared to welcome tourists. Through our Tourism Business Enhancement Program and marketing tools, the GMCVB provides support to get those smaller businesses “tourism ready.”

The best approach to the challenges in the future is a collaborative effort that involves balancing a resilient tourism economy and quality of life for residents. We have come a long way as a leading global destination. The explosive growth at PortMiami and Miami International Airport (MIA) can be attributed, in part, to private and public investments that keep our ports of entry on the cutting edge of innovation. In fact, American Airlines opened its Miami hub at MIA 30 years ago and helped solidify Miami’s position as a global gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Such investment in tourism must continue because, in Miami, tourism is everyone’s business.

William D. Talbert III is president & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article236626648.html#storylink=cpy

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