Florida: Tourism Bounces Back After Hurricane Irma

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Hurricane Irma pummeled parts of Florida during the weekend of Sept. 9, causing $58 billion to $83 billion in damage, according to Moody’s Analytics.

As locals rebuild their lives, the hospitality industry wants to stop tourists from choosing other destinations. Several Florida-based tourism bureaus have introduced marketing initiatives this week in an effort to bring back visitors. Despite the destruction (10,000 homes in Miami-Dade County are still without power), by and large, life in downtown Miami has returned to its usual pace.

“When you look back it feels like a long time, but it’s only been 10 days. We are open for business — the airport is open, the seaport is open and the vast majority of hotels [are open],” William Talbert, CEO of  Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) told Yahoo Finance.

The job now is to remind people that Miami is back to business, which is why the visitors bureau launched its #MiamiNow initiative on Sept. 20. This marketing campaign bundles and extends several existing programs that provide visitors with deals on hotels, restaurants, spas, museums, attractions, and shopping. A sample deal includes a $23 lunch or $39 dinner at some of Miami’s hottest restaurants like STK South Beach and The Capital Grille. The visitors bureau is also urging tourists to check out the conditions of the city on their own by viewing live webcams of Miami’s beaches at SeeMiamiLive.com. The #MiamiNow campaign will run until Oct. 31.

According to Talbert, local hotels have worked incredibly hard to get things back to normal as fast as possible. On Sept.18, just seven days after Irma, The Loews Hotel on South Beach welcomed 400 employees from Rukus Wireless for an annual partner event. Meanwhile, IMN, a global organizer of institutional finance and investment conferences,held an event at the Fontainebleu Miami Beach from Sept. 17-19.

For Miami, tourists are more than just visitors, they are a crucial part of the city’s economy. “Travel and tourism are Miami’s No. 1 industry,” said Talbert. “[It] always has been, and always will be.”

In 2016, Miami welcomed 16 million overnight visitors from around the world, a record for the coastal city. Those tourists spent $25 billion, with 70% of that money coming from international visitors.

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