Miami-Dade visitor industry on flight path to hit record summer altitude
By Jacquelyn Weiner
With record spending on destination marketing and increased flight options, Greater Miami expects strong summer visitor numbers, tourism executives say.
Among the upgrades: an extra $4 million spent on promotions in the past 12 months and the June arrival of the world's largest commercial passenger aircraft to Miami International Airport.
"Absent any international event or weather eventů things are trending that we're going to have a record summer," said William D. Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Last summer, 9.2 million passengers flew in and out of Miami International Airport, according to the airport's website.
Of those, 4.8 million were domestic and 4.4 million international.
International interest is expecting to keep trending further upward, Mr. Talbert said, thanks in part to added flight options.
Additions since last summer include Transaero's twice-weekly service to Moscow Domodedovo Airport, new routes to Amsterdam on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, nonstop service between Miami and Barcelona on Iberia and four-times-a-week American Airlines flights to Brasilia, Brazil.
Upcoming flights include a Miami-Amsterdam route on low-cost Dutch airline ArkeFly launching June 24.
And starting June 10, Miami will be added to the handful of cities in the US with regular service aboard an Airbus A380.
The two-story aircraft will fly a daily Lufthansa Frankfurt-Miami route.
Miami is to be the third US city with regular service on a Lufthansa A380, following New York JFK and San Francisco.
With room for 526 passengers, the new plane is to double capacity on the route to Germany, which is Greater Miami's top European market, said Rolando Aedo, bureau executive vice president-chief marketing officer.
In addition to the added flights, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau spent "more marketing dollars than ever" in the past 12 months, he said.
With added sources of marketing funds this year — including $1.25 million from the BP oil spill — the bureau spent $4 million above its typical marketing effort of $10 million to $12 million, Mr. Aedo said.
Among its summer marketing tactics are the development of limited-time promotions, including Miami Spa Month in July and Miami Spice in August and September.
New this June is Miami Romance Month, featuring love-themed discounts at MiamiRomanceMonth.com, a bridal expo and a $150,000 dream wedding at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
In all, the bureau has developed seven limited-time promotions. And it's no coincidence they run during what's typically considered Miami's slower months.
"We have made it a priority to develop these specialty marketing programs to keep Miami as exciting as the first quarter," Mr. Aedo said.
The aim is to "take the seasonality out of the travel and tourism to Miami," Mr. Talbert said.
"In the old days, things closed down in the summer," he said. "Now that quarter has the same visitor numbers."
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