Private sector proving bigger share of visitors bureau funds
By Claudio Mendonça
Private-sector revenue generated by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau has more than doubled since 2001, according to a survey of the largest bureaus in the US.
The survey, by California consultant Economics Research Associates, included bureaus with budgets exceeding $10 million and used 2003 data compiled by the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus. The group did a similar survey in 2001.
"The bureau focused our efforts in increasing our budget from the private sector, and as a result, we doubled our revenues," said William Talbert III, president of the Miami bureau.
The bureau, the marketing organization for the visitor industry in Miami-Dade County, posted $21.9 million total revenue in 2003, of which $7.6 million was non-government funding. In 2001, the bureau's $18.5 million revenue included $3.3 million non-government funding, according Stephen Spickard, Economic Research Associates vice president.
The private sector's share of the Miami bureau's budget rose from 18% in 2002 to 35% in 2003. Public money provided the remainder. The increase moves the bureau up from eighth to fourth nationwide in the receipt of private-sector funds - behind Orlando, Atlanta and New York.
Government funding for the bureau declined from $15.2 million in 2001 to $14.3 million in 2003, heightening the impact of non-government funding.
Governments fund the bureau to market tourism throughout the county, a task that was splintered several decades ago among local agencies. Creation of the bureau unified tourism marketing for the county.
The importance of private-sector contributions, Mr. Talbert said, is that they provide additional income for advertising and marketing Miami-Dade County.
"In these days of difficult fiscal times, I believe bureaus want to have revenues generated mostly from the private sector and rely less on government," said Mr. Spickard.
Private money comes from bureau members such as hotels, airlines, car-rental agencies, limousine services and cruise lines. Public money comes from resort and visitor-related taxes and Miami-Dade County's food and beverage taxes.
In 2001, 82% of the Miami bureau's budget came from the public sector.
An average 25% of bureaus' revenue nationwide came from public funds in 2003, down from 28% in 2001.
"This is great news because we rely less on public money," Mr. Talbert said. "In 2001, a percentage of our budget raised from our private sector was low. It shows that the bureau's focus has been increasing the amount of private dollars. We applaud our private-sector partners."