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Miami-Dade County Records Highest Percentage Growth in Room Rate and Occupancy in
2003 Among the Top 25 Hotel Markets
By Dale K. DuPont, The Miami Herald
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

Feb. 6, 2004 - Miami-Dade County had the highest percentage growth in room rate and occupancy in 2003 among the top 25 hotel markets surveyed by Smith Travel Research. 

The numbers are approaching the record year of 2000, when occupancy averaged 69.7 percent and daily rates were $110.47. 

Anaheim, Calif., also registered a 3.9 percent increase in occupancy, but Miami was alone with a 3.9 percent rise in average daily room rates as well. 

Miami Beach had the highest rates: $132.42, up 4.9 percent from the year before. Airport-area hotels had the highest occupancy: 68.2 percent, down 0.1 percent from 2002. Beach occupancy rose the most: 8.4 percent to 64.5 percent. 

"Miami was the hottest destination, in terms of growth, in 2003," said William Talbert, president of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, who attributed the increase to more aggressive marketing. 

"We started the summer program earlier and hit more cities than we ever have," he said. 

Third- and fourth-quarter occupancy was up 5.9 and 7.7 percent from the year before. 

Bureau promoters visited key feeder markets both in and out of state, he said. And with business down at Miami International Airport, Talbert suggests more people may be driving into town. 

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has been growing, thanks mainly to the expansion of low-fare lines. Based on its own surveys, the bureau says 13 percent of people flying into the Broward airport are bound for overnight stays in Miami. 

Of Miami's 5.6 million domestic visitors, the largest chunk -- 44.8 percent -- comes from the Northeast, followed by 24.4 percent from the Midwest, 22.5 percent from the Southeast and the rest from the West. 

While the number of domestic visitors was up 6.1 percent, international visitors fell 2.2 percent. Sixty-four percent of those travelers are from Latin America, 22 percent from Europe and 9.6 percent from Canada. 

"Miami comes back quicker historically," said Stu Blumberg, head of the Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association. It's a warm-weather destination that doesn't target just one such market as gamblers or families. 

What's more, he said, "new luxury hotels are pushing up the rate, and post-9/11 discounting is evaporating." 

Miami has added 3,000 hotel rooms over the past three years for a total of 50,000. The big boom was two years ago. 

"The room supply growth has been really low for the last year," said Bobby Bowers, Smith's vice president of operations. Miami's growth was 0.9 percent versus the national average of 1.3 percent. 

But demand has been up, which boosts rates. "Miami has always been a popular destination," he said. And the leisure side of travel has done better than the business side for the last couple of years. 

Broward County, which has 33,000 hotel rooms, had higher occupancy and rates for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. 

For the first quarter of the current year, average occupancy for October, November and December was 68.4 percent, up from 63 percent for the same period in 2002. 

Average room rate was $85.17 for the three months, compared to $86.18 the year before. Rates dipped in November. 

-----To see more of The Miami Herald -- including its homes, jobs, cars and other classified listings -- or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to 

(c) 2004, The Miami Herald. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. 


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