The tourism and hospitality industry in Miami Beach is making a faster than expected recovery as resort tax revenues continue to come in higher than projected. Instead of an anticipated 50% drop in revenue from March 2019, the last year of normal operations, actual receipts were down only 9.6%. As a result, the City collected $4.3 million more than projected.
The March collections follow a better than expected February in which the City had projected a 55% decline in resort taxes but instead saw only a 12.3% drop, resulting in an additional $3.9 million in revenue. Last September, the City adopted a scaled-back budget based on what it anticipated the COVID impact to be but, after it was clear the pandemic was causing a bigger hit than projected, the budget was revised even further down to reflect a longer recovery time.
The overall decrease in resort taxes for March was 9.6% ($9,702,381 down $1,031,661). The food and beverage and room rental component decreased 10.3% with F&B down 12.6% and room rentals down 8.2%.
Miami Beach CFO John Woodruff said, “The numbers are very encouraging” though he noted it’s “unclear if the trend will continue to be this strong as other destinations ‘open up’ as COVID restrictions ease and people have more perceived options.”
Rolando Aedo, Chief Operating Officer of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), said the telltale indicators of recovery were being felt as early as December. With the launch of recovery programs including those by the GMCVB; the college National Football Championship game here that, although different, still put the area on the national stage; and “a dose of nasty weather up north” converged with the reopening of Florida. “All these things positioned us to capture what was an enormous, enormous amount of pent-up demand,” Aedo said. “We knew travel wasn’t going to go away, but it was a matter of timing.”
By February, hotels saw “rates surpassing 2019 levels which really spoke to the strength of the destination and, of course, the Miami Beach and greater Miami brands,” Aedo said.