Hotel rates soar over New Year's Day weekend
By Claudio Mendonça
Miami hotel rates soared New Year's weekend to an average $210 a night, up 19% from a year ago. Occupancy rose 1.7% to 80% to kick off a year of tourism-oriented events.
"We had a number folks from all over Pennsylvania for the Orange Bowl weekend," said Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO William Talbert III. To lure Penn State fans to Miami, Mr. Talbert did radio remotes for three days on Forever Broadcasting Inc., which owns three Pennsylvania stations.
The FedEx Orange Bowl weekend, he said, is a small slice of a busy year for hospitality. In March, he said, the bureau starts a campaign to market the summer and year-round tourism, visiting 50 US cities.
"This is what we call year-round tourism," Mr. Talbert said. "Every month there is something going on. As a result, in June, instead of laying people off, we are adding jobs in the summer. It's been a community success."
Also working to attract travelers year-round is the Miami Beach Visitors & Convention Authority. One of its key events is the 4-year-old Miami Spice Restaurant Month, which runs during August and September.
Stephen Haas, authority president, said events such as restaurant month have been instrumental in turning slow dining periods August and September into the fourth and fifth busiest months, just behind January, February and March.
"During Miami Spice month, restaurants were 50% busier in 2005 than the year before," Mr. Haas said. "It's been tremendous. Word is out and each year the public is becoming a lot more aware."
January events the authority uses to entice visitors include the South Beach Comedy Festival, in a partnership with the Comedy Central cable television channel Jan. 18-21, featuring performers such as David Spade, Dennis Leary and Kathy Griffin.
February events include the South Beach Wine & Food Festival Feb. 24-26 and the Miami Boat Show Feb. 16-20, Presidents' Day Weekend. That weekend, Coconut Grove holds its Art Festival.
Festivities extend into March with the Winter Party Festival March 1-6. The Miami International Film Festival begins March 3 with 75 feature films and Funkshion-Fashion week runs March 22-25.
April 9 brings the Miami Beach Latin Funk festival. April 14-16 is the Polo World Cup and April 21-30 the Gay & Lesbian Film Festival is expected to include 80 screenings.
May brings MiMo Month, an annual celebration of 1950s architecture, Miami fashion Week Americas and the JVC Jazz Festival May 17.
June 9, the Brazilian Arts Festival returns.
In July, the Sunglass Hut Swimwear Show returns to South Beach. August and September are Miami Restaurant months. Oct. 7, the World Theater Festival comes to town. November is the 21st annual Muscle Beach party, part of 10-day White Party Week. Dec. 1-4 is Art Basel Miami Beach.
On the meetings side, highlights include the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology conference in March with 7,000 attendees. The bureau says that meeting will generate an economic impact of $14.6 million. Also in March, American Nurses Credentialing Center will bring 2,500 attendees with a $3.3 million impact.
In July, the Swimwear Association of Florida meets, with 2,500 attendees and a $1.1 million impact.
In September, Common IT, Education Conference & Expo Software will attract 3,200 and trigger a $6.6 million impact.
In the fall, 7,000 are expected for the American Association of Blood Banks annual meeting and generate a $13.3 million impact. In November the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association expects 12,000 attendees with an economic impact of $13 million.