Opinion: Miami-area tourists will be the big winners during Super Bowl week

January 29, 2020

As Super Bowl fans arrive in the Miami area, final preparations are underway from Hard Rock Stadium to Bayfront Park to the Miami Beach Convention Center, and everywhere in between. But it’s the progress over the past decade that will have the biggest impact on visitors.

In that span, Miami has benefited from the emergence of new neighborhoods, the addition of hotel and lodging options, an increasingly lively arts, culture and nightlife scene, and the launch of transit connections.

Investments in our city’s tourism infrastructure have fueled this growth. For example, without the over $600 million investment in Hard Rock Stadium by Steve Ross and stadium ownership, the Super Bowl would not have returned. The Miami Beach Convention Center’s transformation, Brightline/Virgin Trains launch, and addition of new lighting along Downtown’s Miami Baywalk are welcomed additions.

The result: The Miami area has become a diverse destination with a cosmopolitan brand that transcends sand and surf — a stark contrast to the 2010 Super Bowl when all eyes were on South Beach.

Given these changes, it’s no surprise Miami’s tourism numbers are on the rise. In 2018, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau tracked 16.5 million overnight stays, up 3.5 percent over 2017. Another 6.8 million people came for the day, bringing the total number of visitors to 23.3 million. Several factors are driving this growth.

Emerging neighborhoods: In 2010, South Beach was the center of activity leading up to the Super Bowl. Today, our urban core is a standalone destination alongside the beaches, and the Super Bowl Host Committee is centering its pregame festivities in Downtown’s Bayfront Park. Super Bowl LIVE, presented by Verizon, is a free festival featuring concerts, culinary events, and more.

Neighborhoods like Wynwood, the Design District and Little Havana were off the tourism map in 2010. Since then, these areas have become destinations attracting millions of visitors annually. Miami is now defined as much by our colorful neighborhoods as our beautiful beaches.

Diverse lodging options: More than 10,000 hotel rooms have come online in Greater Miami since 2010, a staggering amount of new inventory. Greater Downtown has driven this growth with a 25 percent increase in new rooms.

Hotel additions span from luxury properties such as One Hotel South Beach, the Edition and Faena, to lifestyle brands like Mr. C. Coconut Grove, Hyatt Centric Brickell and SLS Brickell. More are on the way, including a Miami Beach Convention Center hotel, Marriott Marquis and CitizenM at Miami Worldcenter, Waldorf Astoria in Downtown, and a Virgin Hotel in Brickell.

Even with the addition of thousands of new hotel rooms and countless short-term rental options, data shows our market is strong. According to STR, which tracks hotel markets, Miami was the only city in the country to experience a double-digit increase in occupancy rates (11 percent) from 2018 to 2019. Miami also had the second-largest jump in Revenue Per Available Room, 16.3 percent.

Transit takes center stage: Methods of getting to, from and around Miami have never been more plentiful.

More than 100 airlines service Miami International Airport, the highest number at any U.S. airport, with 150 global destinations served. In 2018, MIA passed the 45-million-passenger milestone for the first time. Similarly, 6.8 million people cruised from PortMiami in 2019, a 66 percent increase over the previous decade.

Once here, visitors have no shortage of ways to get around. Brightline/Virgin Trains, the new Metrorail Orange Line connecting Downtown with MIA, and several app-based car-, scooter- and bike-sharing services are moving visitors.

Culture, cuisine and couture: In 2010, there was no Museum Park and Wynwood wasn’t a household name. We have since built new museums in Downtown and welcomed unique art venues such as Wynwood Walls. Allapattah, now home to the Rubell and Pérez art collections, is an emerging arts enclave.

New retail options have come online in the Design District and at Brickell City Centre, with more on the way.

Miami is now viewed as a top-tier dining destination — home to Michelin-starred chefs and homegrown culinary talents. Today, Downtown Miami has more than 300 restaurants alone, along with a growing number of bars, lounges and nightclubs.

South Florida may be the all-time leading Super Bowl Host — with our 11th game approaching — but our tourism landscape has never experienced such a dramatic transformation between games, and visitors will come away the big winners.

By continuing to invest in our tourism economy and regional infrastructure, we will lay the groundwork for future marquee events, including our 12th Super Bowl.

  *This article was republished with permission from Miami Herald*
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