Miami-Dade tourism bureau reports rising visitor revenues, record growth at travel hubs

Daniella Levine Cava GMCVB
Miami International Airport (MIA) and PortMiami, the county’s top 2 economic engines, enjoyed unprecedented business.

For Miami-Dade’s tourism and hospitality industry, 2023 wasn’t just a banner year; it was a record-smashing one.

The county last year welcomed more than 27.2 million visitors who spent an estimated $21.1 billion — a 2% increase over the year prior, according to the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB).

Many of those out-of-town travelers came through and sailed from Miami International Airport (MIA) and PortMiami, the county’s top two economic engines, both of which enjoyed unprecedented business.

The area also saw 17.3 million hotel room nights sold, a 0.3% year-over-year uptick.

In all, tourism generated nearly $30 billion in overall impact — including $5 billion in tax revenues — and more than $19 billion in gross domestic product, representing 9% of Miami-Dade’s total GDP.

Supporting it all were 200,000 workers who earned $11 billion combined wages. That’s an average of $55,000 per person, which the county ranks as between “low” and “very low” income.

GMCVB presented its figures at the bureau’s annual State of the Travel and Tourism Industry Presentation. More than 650 tourism-related company representatives, government officials and community leaders attended the event at Norwegian Cruise Line’s PortMiami terminal.

Some 650 elected officials, local leaders and representatives from the travel, tourism and hospitality industries convened this month at Norwegian Cruise Line’s PortMiami terminal for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau’s State of the Travel and Tourism Industry Presentation. Image via GMCVB.

David Whitaker, GMCVB President and CEO, attributed the industry’s gains to inventive marketing, exceptional offerings and the hard work of industry partners.

“The sustained growth we witnessed in 2023 and the promising start to 2024 are due to our ability to effectively market the enduring appeal of Greater Miami and Miami Beach as a must-visit destination,” he said.

“We know that visitors can easily make the decision to spend their discretionary dollars elsewhere. Tourism magnifies the vibrancy of cultures inherent in our diverse neighborhoods and at the same time, supports essential programs that enhance the lives of residents throughout the county. We know that when tourism flourishes, our communities thrive.”

Among the organization’s marketing efforts was “Rainbow Spring,” an initiative launched in 2023 to link LGBTQ visitors with unique programming and promotional offers during the year’s second season. This past March and April, the campaign saw 18,000 bookings totaling $11.1 million — a 5.5% increase from the same period last year.

There was also “Find Your Miami,” which highlighted neighborhoods and experiences across the county, and “Find Your Wave,” a Miami Beach-specific promotional push.

This year, GMCVB is running several new campaigns, including “Brought to You by Tourism,” which aims to build local awareness of the impact tourism and hospitality have on the region. The bureau is also expanding its multicultural tourism and development efforts to mark the 10th anniversary of “Art of Black Miami,” an award-winning marketing platform to elevate African American artists.

Julissa Kepner, in her first State of the Travel and Tourism address as Chair, emphasized the organization’s focus on innovation and collaboration.

“I’ve taken the step to remove the word ‘complacency’ from my vocabulary when thinking about how I view Miami-Dade’s tourism and hospitality sector,” she said.

“This industry is dynamic and ever evolving. Our ability to grow and mature as a destination is rooted in competitive marketing, expanding our programming, championing sustainability, being more inclusive and seeking out additional cultural treasures to showcase on a global scale.”

GMCVB President and CEO David Whitaker credited his agency and its partners for ably marketing the “enduring appeal” of the Miami area for the industry’s strong 2023 numbers. Image via GMCVB.

Miami: So hot right now

MIA turned in another record year with 52.3 million travelers in 2023, a 3.2% increase over the previous year. American Airlines contributed significantly to that gain by increasing its seating capacity by 10% year-over-year during the Winter schedule and delivering an unmatched 390 flights on peak days.

The hub also welcomed several new carriers, including Norse Atlantic Airways, Porter Airlines and Volaris El Salvador as international travel rebounded with 23.2 million foreign fliers, an 8.5% yearly uptick.

Meanwhile, PortMiami introduced new cruise terminals and expanded its ships lineup with eight new cruise vessels for the 2023-24 season.

The seaport last year again proved worthy of its nickname, “Cruise Capital of the World,” notching its cruise busiest year in history and reclaiming its No. 1 slot from Port Canaveral, which surpassed Miami for the first time in 2022.

PortMiami roared back last year. GMCVB said the harbor welcomed 7.5 million cruise guests representing an 11% increase over the previous record from 2019. Of note, those figures are higher than what Miami-Dade reported for fiscal 2023 in December.

In the first quarter of 2024, Greater Miami and Miami Beach ranked as the busiest destination in the country for hotel stays, beating Oahu and other top locales with a 3.3% increase over the same period last year.

Miami-Dade was also top in the nation in revenue per available room for March, a 1.6% increase over 2023 figures.

GMCVB’s convention sales team also secured 13 new major convention bookings at the Miami Beach Convention Center by the end of May. Combined, the events added 91,000 hotel room nights and more than $195 million in economic impact for the county.

Other key contributors to Miami-Dade’s tourism successes are the county’s growing roster of major events, including Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix, which attracted a record 275,000 fans this year and in 2023 generated $449 million in economic activity; the return of the Latin Grammys to Miami’s Kaseya Center this November; and the FIFA World Cup 2026, which analysts project will draw more than 600,000 fans to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens and its surrounding areas, generating $90-480 million worth of local economic impact.

View GMCVB’s 2023 Visitor Industry Overview here.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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