Miami tourism is way down. ‘Hybrid’ meetings, TV production, parks are keys in recovery plan.

Taylor Dolven
·2 min read

In hopes of luring back visitors to the Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami-Dade’s tourism bureau held its annual meeting there Wednesday.

Normally a celebration of record-breaking visitor numbers, this year leaders of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau skipped the celebration and discussed the next steps in the hospitality industry’s effort to recover from the worst economic downturn it has ever weathered — the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business and hotel closures since March have resulted in $1.3 billion in direct revenue loss for hotels and $742 million in loss for restaurants, according to a new study from Florida International University. From March through August of 2020 compared to 2019, there was an 87.2% decrease in international arrivals and 71.8% decrease in domestic arrivals, the study found.

To begin to come back, the CVB is eager to book groups for “hybrid” meetings — with some in-person attendance and some virtual attendance — and encourage TV and film studios to consider Miami for their next production.

William D. Talbert III, the president of the CVB, said the Miami Beach Convention Center, largely unused since March, is open for hybrid meetings with safety protocols like required masks. Talbert said the Aesthetic Society, an association of plastic surgeons, is scheduled to hold a meeting there next April.

“This shows this community can do face-to-face meetings, it works, it’s seamless, everyone feels comfortable here,” Talbert said.

Bruce Orosz, chairman of the board of the CVB, said the bureau is working with lobbyists in Tallahassee to push for tax breaks for TV and film studios. He said he wants to create “bubble-like productions” for studios similar to NBA’s bubble environment for its season.

“We need to give assurances to the film and TV community that we can make your project succeed,” he said.

Last month Miami-Dade county commissioners gave the CVB $5 million for its “Miami Land” marketing campaign aimed at attracting tourists to South Florida’s parks and outdoor spaces.

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the U.S., it’s still unclear when the industry will see serious improvements.

“I know for sure we’re going to be fine, I just don’t know when,” Talbert said.