Art Basel, cultural arts scene shape efforts to market Miami
By Scott E. Pacheco
Greater Miami's fairs and cultural arts scene continue to play a large role in efforts to market the area.
"Events are a big part of this community," said Rolando Aedo, senior vice president of marketing and tourism with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"We feel events define a destination," he said. "Event marketing is a huge part of what we are doing because we know it has a tremendous impact."
He said cultural tourism has become a big part of Miami's brand.
"Earlier this year we significantly shifted our brand position to fully capitalize the art, design and culture of Miami," he said. "Art Basel and other events that are cultural at their core fit in with our brand positioning."
Mr. Aedo cited the so-called "Basel Effect" — where one event has a transformative impact on the area.
"Whether it's culinary, performance, whether it's visual arts — our advertising campaign is based around that," he said. "These events — we integrate them in practically everything we do, whether it's marketing materials, whether it's our Web sites…"
Music, dining and art attractions are strengths because they are attractive, accessible and authentic in Miami, community leaders say.
"The people who have the discretionary income — that's where they are going, that's what they are purchasing," said Bruce Turkel, CEO of Turkel Advertising. "It's only getting bigger and bigger because places are becoming more similar — everyone's got big box."
As the tourism industry continues to grow in Miami-Dade County, as evidenced by an increase in room rates and occupancy, a growing portion are cultural tourists. According to a Travel Industry Association of America study, more than 100 million Americans enjoy a cultural or historical activity while on vacation.
A cultural tourist is defined as "a traveler motivated entirely or in part by artistic, heritage or cultural offerings," according to "Exploring America Through Its Culture," a report commissioned by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
Those are exactly the types of people that Miami — with its art deco and Latin American offerings and other attractions such as galleries, concerts and theatre — has an advantage bringing here, panel members said.
"What happens here culturally is like no other place," said Vivian Rodriguez with the Miami International Film Festival. "We bring our own brand of cultural tourism. People love to come here because a brand has been created."
Mr. Turkel said the area's Latin and Hispanic roots play a major role in the uniqueness of the community, calling a trip to Miami "an exotic experience in the US." He added that each culture, whether it be Cuban, Argentine or Peruvian, has different nuances and offers different experiences.
Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books, said moving forward it's important to stay on the ball and continue to be as authentic as possible. "We have to do as much as we can to guard against complacency and homogeneity."
Michael Aller, tourism & convention director with the City of Miami Beach, said Art Basel and similar events fill a crucial niche.
"It fills the term cultural tourism in any way that you can possibly understand," he said. "That cultural tourism equals the most important thing right now."