Miami Beach has much to offer in the New Year

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Miami Beach has much to offer in the New Year

by Steven Adkins, Chair, MBVCA



If you’ve recently driven up Collins Avenue. on Miami Beach, you’d be forgiven if you found yourself wondering if you were on the right street.  The “Beach” is once again exploding with new hotels, major renovations and wonderful restaurants that have sprung up to accommodate U.S. and international guests who hunger for Miami Beach’s ambiance, activities and offerings.  With “the season” in full swing, there’s much to look forward to as the New Year begins.


On Miami Beach, the demand for luxury hotels are driving a slew of openings in late 2014 and throughout 2015. For instance, much has been written about the 2014 opening of the Miami Beach Edition, a collaboration between Marriott and iconic hotel developer, Ian Schrager as well as the Thompson hotel, the Metropolitan by COMO, Aloft South Beach, Hyatt South Beach and many others.  In 2015, over 2500 new hotel rooms – new and remodeled properties – are slated to be added to the Miami Beach inventory. 


One of the most anticipated openings is the new Faena Hotel Miami Beach at 32nd and Collins Avenue.  The spectacular 3 property combination of hotel, residences and cultural center, will boast ocean views and, luxury rooms.  The hotel site, which also includes the Saxony Hotel, will have décor designed by famous Hollywood director Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge) and his wife Catherine Martin. 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach, formerly the Gansevoort and Perry Hotels will also be open soon.  Located at 2399 Collins Avenue, the world’s second 1 Hotel (NYC is the first) is positioning itself as a nature-focused retreat in the heart of Miami Beach.  The environmentally friendly property will include four swimming pools, a spa, 600 feet of private beach and 161 private residences that will range from spacious one-bedrooms to penthouses. The property will also feature Beachcraft restaurant from Tom Colicchio, offering locally sourced, farm-to-fork gourmet cuisine.


On the “foodie” side, there are so many new restaurants on the beach that, I can’t even list all my favorites here.  But, some of the most popular new locales are Sienna Tavern (404 Washington Ave.), STK (2301 Collins Ave.), Drunken Dragon (1424 Alton Road), Iron Chef Morimoto at the Shelbourne South Beach (1801 Collins Avenue) and the soon to open Bagatelle (2000 Collins Ave.) among many others. 


As for cultural offerings and entertainment, the city is bursting with a plethora of choices. The New World Symphony (building designed by Frank Gehry), the Colony Theater, the Bass Museum,  South Florida Art Center, Peter Lik Gallery and other venues have special programs for the new year as well as Miami Beach’s 100 year celebrations which will take place all year long in 2015 with special events planned every month.  


So, come visit us often in 2015 so that you’re able to take in all the wonders of Miami Beach.  Hope to see you all soon!


Hotelier Peggy Benua Gives Her Insight on the Slew of Miami Beach Luxury Hotels Slated to Open This Year and Beyond…


Peggy Benua, GM of the Dream South Beach and Vice Chair of MBVCA

As you drive north on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, it can be overwhelming to maneuver through construction and blockage caused by buildings under renovation. Anyone can see that Miami Beach has definitely made a comeback from the 2008-2009 recession. The real estate market is at its all-time high, in particular the hotel segment. In fact, there is so much going on with new hotels these days it’s hard to keep up.

Let’s take a quick tour north on Collins Avenue starting from my neighborhood at Dream South Beach at 11th street.

Between 16th and 17th streets we find the Gale Suites at Kaskades, an extension of the popular Gale Hotel South Beach, which will open just in time for Art Basel on December 9th. The property will have 25 all-suite rooms; complete with oversize terraces, soaking tubs, 60” HDTV’s, rainforest showers and luxury Italian linens. The guests will have access to a rooftop with cocktails, cabanas and a small pool, as well as access to all the amenities at the Gale Hotel, which include a popular Rec Room nightclub and The Regent Cocktail Club & Lounge.

 At 17th street on the left we come to the construction site of the future Hyatt South Beach. Scheduled to open in 2015, the Hyatt South Beach will offer 105 guestrooms in addition to an outdoor pool, fitness center and 10,000 square feet of prime ground floor retail space.

At 18th Street on the right is the Nautilus South Beach which is heading towards a late winter 2014 opening. The hotel will feature 251 rooms in a renovated building designed by the famed architect Morris Lapidus. Under the management of SIXTY Hotels, the Nautilus South Beach will feature a new restaurant, lobby lounge, poor bar and extensive event and meeting rooms.

Images provided by: Peggy Benua/1 Hotel South Beach

Images provided by: Peggy Benua/1 Hotel South Beach

At 23rd street on the site of the former Roney Palace, Gansevoort Hotel and Perry South Beach, the 1 Hotel South Beach now reigns as a LEED certified ‘green’ luxury hotel which is scheduled to open in February 2015. The hotel is located on more than 600 linear feet of prime beachfront land and will feature over 417 guest suites, four pools and a restaurant by famed New York restaurateur Tom Colicchio. Directly across the street we can see the Aloft South Beach, a less pricey but still hip version of Starwood’s W Hotels, which will open in March 2015 with 235 guest rooms.

Traveling north to 29th street is the Edition Miami Beach, from famed hotelier Ian Schrager in partnership with Marriott hotels, opening on November 10th. While the hotel will feature 294 luxurious rooms, the main attraction will be its numerous amenities; a restaurant by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a bowling alley, an outdoor movie theater, a night club and a first for a Miami hotel, an ice-skating rink. Directly across Collins Avenue is the AC Hotel by Marriott Miami Beach, which will open in March 2015 with 150 rooms.

One of the most exciting projects in Miami Beach is the Feana District located near 32nd street and Collins Avenue. Developed by Alan Faena of Buenos Aires, the district will consist of a hotel, luxury condos, an arts center, bazaar, a park, gardens and a marina on Indian Creek. The Faena Hotel is scheduled to open in 2015.

Images provided by: Peggy Benua/1 Hotel South Beach

Images provided by: Peggy Benua/1 Hotel South Beach

On to 40th street we find the Thompson Miami Beach, which will open on November 21st. The hotel features 380 beach-inspired hotel rooms in a completely renovated 1950’s mid-century building. It will have two pools, three bars and a “Floridian Brasserie” restaurant by a James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef, Michelle Bernstein.

Other recently opened hotels worth noting include the Vintro Hotel in the new Cultural District of Miami Beach, The Hotel Croydon, The Metropolitan Como on Collins Avenue at 24th street, the newly renovated Shelbourne Hotel and the Hilton Cabana on Collins at 62nd street.

There is certainly no shortage of hotel rooms to accommodate the record breaking numbers of visitors to our city. Miami Beach has grown into a world class tourist destination with no signs of slowing down.

Images provided by: Peggy Benua/1 Hotel South Beach

Images provided by: Peggy Benua/1 Hotel South Beach

Peggy Benua is currently Vice Chair of the MBVCA. She has been a hotelier in Miami Beach since 2000 and is the General Manager of Dream South Beach, a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of South Beach.

Real estate agent Danny Hertzberg comments about the current state of Miami Beach’s real estate market and gives teasers of new buildings and developments for 2015…

clip_image002[4]  In the 1960’s it was London, in the 1990’s it was Hong Kong, Dubai ruled in 2000 and now Miami Beach has emerged as one of the most sought after addresses in the world. This city boasts year-round sun, pristine beaches, a rich history and an exploding restaurant scene causing foodies from around the globe to take notice.  Miami Beach is the one of the most internationally-integrated cities in the world and the world loves Miami Beach right back!


I was born and raised in Miami Beach and have watched my beloved city grow into this incredibly sophisticated destination. I have a close pulse on the booming Miami Beach real estate market. Our market has fully recovered from the recession’s damage and prices and many areas have surpassed those from the prior peaks of 2006. The new construction projects have attracted interest from all over the world in the single-family home sector, as well as the condo market. Star-chitects (star architects) have been creating architecturally significant projects all over this city and buyers have been paying attention.


 Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil make up the largest percentage of international buyers. In addition, we are seeing a significant number of buyers from New York and California who have been flocking to our shores to enjoy the city, as well as Florida’s tax advantages, which are free from personal income tax. 


There are numerous new construction projects underway. A few of my favorite Miami Beach projects are Glass, Marea, 321 Ocean, Ritz-Carlton Residences and One Ocean. Modern and sleek designs are currently all the rage and amenities are beyond anything we have ever seen. These world-class amenities range from IMAX theaters to full smart home automation.


The highest price per foot sales have been concentrated in the South of Fifth Street neighborhood, SOFI, where $1,000 a foot is the new norm.  Many buildings such as Continuum, Apogee and Setai are regularly breaking $2,000 a foot.  SOFI has become the most sought after neighborhood in South beach. Walk from 5th street to the incredible South Pointe Park and enjoy some of the city’s most renowned restaurants (Joe’s, Milo’s and Prime 112) and popular nightlife spots (Radio Bar, Story and Nikki Beach) along the way. 


As for the single-family sector, the demand is extremely high for turnkey homes.  New construction waterfront homes have transformed the market with sales in the $1,500 per foot range. Modern and contemporary architecture has lead the market and numerous projects are at varying stages of construction. In the past year, Alex Rodriguez’s home sold for $30 million, 42 La Gorce sold for $30 million and 30 Star Island sold for $28 million. The guarded islands and N. Bay Road are the price leaders in terms of location.

 2920 N Bay Rd_05Images provided by: Danny Hertzberg

2920 N Bay Rd_12Images provided by: Danny Hertzberg

This is a very exciting time in the Miami Beach real estate market. From a beachfront studio pied-a-terre to a waterfront estate, Miami Beach has so many incredible options and the world has truly taken notice.


Danny Hertzberg is a Board Member of the MBVCA. He is a real estate agent with The Jills®. For more information about Danny, please visit the below links:

Miami Beach’s MBI App is here!

Miami Beach’s MBI App is here!

Miami Beach launches its innovative information app for smartphones and tablets


Miami Beach,FL –April16,2014It’s finally here!This month the highly anticipated Miami Beach travel app, recently christened the Miami Beach Information (MBI) app, arrived for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. The MBI app will allow visitors and residents to easily find and connect with local businesses,restaurants,points of interest,and events around the Miami Beach area.


The Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority partnered with web software development company Solodev to create the app,the first of its kind for a major U.S. city. Beyond local attractions,the MBI app is a comprehensive 411 resource that provides granular details on every business as well as on city amenities and happenings.Extensive detail is available by category, so in addition, for instance, to finding an accountant nearest their location, tourists and locals can select a hotel based on its architect or a restaurant based on the noise level of its dining room.


After months of development, research and data mining, weve created a stateof-the-art,erudite app, a mobile reference guide, that takes Miami Beach to the next level providing real-time,expedient, valuable information residents and visitors can utilize to have the best experience in the city,” says Steve Adkins, chair, The Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority.


Solodev CTO, Shawn Moore,says MBI,puts Miami 100 steps ahead of other cities around the world in providing an objective, technological resource for businesses and public spaces.This propels Miami Beach to the head of the pack, a technology leader in a rapidly changing tourism sector. It also demonstrates that Miami Beach is a serious destination for developers.


MBI has a wealth of resources for users, focusing on shopping, dining, arts,entertainment, nightlife, sports,music, transportation and other areas. The app will complement other recent offerings by Miami Beach including a free citizen reporting app that integrates with the citys customer support center and a parks and recreation app, also developed by Solodev.


About Miami Beach

With anaverageyear-roundtemperatureof75degrees,Miami Beach has an unrivaled reputation for culinary offerings, nightlife,culture, fashion, and luxurious hotels. Also a popular destination among travelers,Miami Beach was ranked by TripAdvisor as number one on its Top Winter Sun Vacation Rental  GetawayDestinationsfor2011 list and was included on both the  Top 25BeachesintheWorldand Top  25Destinations in the U.S. lists. Boasting seven miles of breath taking beaches, Miami Beach is easily accessible from the Port of Miami and Miami International Airport.  The City of Miami Beach has just been named one of the top cities worldwide for walkability‘ and is equally easy to navigate by bike or by boat.Home to unique museums, to the New World Symphony and Miami City Ballet, to over 17,000 luxury, boutique and resort hotel rooms, 12 public parks and to the Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami Beach is a destination for all seasons.Miami Beach is like no other place in the world! Visit or for more information or contact Grisette Marcos at


About Solodev

Solodev is a leading provider of content management software that enables organizations to easily and efficiently manage their online presence. Solodev’s enterprise-level content management platform is used to build smartphone applications, interactive websites, social media applications and other online portals designed to reach an evergrowing ecosystem of screens and devices. Solodev software allows users to seamlessly manage mobile,web, social and ecommercecontentin one place andruns in the cloud or on premise to provide secure and scalable online solutions. For more information about Solodev, please visit

Contact: Andrea Thompson



The Madness of March & Beyond

The Madness of March & Beyond

All eyes are on Miami Beach as the city welcomes revelers from all over the world for a plethora of parties, parades and events well beyond March



Along with the rest of the U.S., Miami Beach is experiencing the madness of March and April with events for everyone. From Winter Music Conference to Miami Beach Gay Pride, the city celebrates along with visitors from all over the world who have traveled to attend fun, fabulous events while taking advantage of the sun, beaches, restaurants, shopping, people watching and dozens of activities available to travelers.


Miami Beach takes the global stage with events like Winter Music Conference, one of the most renowned music industry gatherings in the United States that brings hundreds of artists, DJs and music industry delegates to the city. Held at the same time as Miami Music Week and the Ultra Music Festival, Winter Music Conference is the anchoring event for the electronic music industry. Miami Beach will be filled with music seminars, parties, DJ spin-offs and all of the fun and excitement will be capped off with the 29th Annual International Dance Music Awards. Also in March, FUNKSHION: Fashion Week Miami Beach is a four day long platform for new and emerging designers in Miami, Latin America and Europe. Designers showcase their cutting edge work in venues around Miami Beach. Events are open to the public.


“Miami Beach is one of the most happening cities in the world,” says Grisette Roque Marcos, Executive Director, the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority. “Miami Beach has become a world contender and competitor in terms of its offerings of entertainment, culture, activities, events and diversions. Miami Beach has evolved into more than a beach and has developed into a world class destination with interesting choices for everyone. The madness of March is just the beginning.”


As March turns into April, the city doesn’t slow down with the Miami Beach Polo World Cup X and

Miami Beach Gay Pride set for mid to late April. Located on the sand between 20th and 22nd Streets, Miami Beach Polo World Cup X is considered “the world’s largest and most prestigious Polo Tournament on the Beach.”  The three-day men’s tournament includes some of the world’s top ranked polo players including England’s Jamie Morrison and Holland’s Vincent Mesker. More than 10,000 people attend the event each year.  Miami Beach Gay Pride brings together members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, their friends, allies, and supporters in celebration of the unique spirit and culture of the LGBT community.


“Miami Beach this time of year is a medley of events, adventures and great experiences,” says Steve Adkins, Chair, the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority. There’s no other city in the world that has a combination of great weather, culture, sophisticated events, walkability, fantastic culinary options and so much more. The world is mad for Miami Beach and all the destination has to offer.”


The Betsy South Beach Named Boutique Hotel of the Year

The Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association Also Honors The Betsy’s Jonathan Plutzik as Hotelier of the Year.

MIAMI, FL–(Marketwire – Sep 20, 2012) – The Betsyhas maintained a distinguished presence among its Art Deco neighbors, from the splendor of its Florida Georgian façade on Ocean Drive to its visionary design. Proving that South Beach beauty can be more than skin deep, The Betsy carries an authentic elegance that goes deeper than the physical design. The Betsy continues to earn distinction and international recognition, awarded as Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association’s (BLLA) Hotel of the Year in the independent boutique category. Jonathan Plutzik, Principal Owner and Chairman for The Betsy, is BLLA’s 2012 recipient of the Boutique and Lifestyle Hotelier of the Year Award.

Read the whole story HERE.

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Building Our Future On Our Past: The Visual Memoirs Project

By: Jacque Hertz

Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority Board Member

“To Infinity And Beyond” … That is the saying of Toy Story’s hero, Buzz Lightyear. But what brought Buzz to where he is today? The answer is his past. So too with Miami Beach. We always tend to look at today and into the future and not reflect on our history, but where we are now and where we will be in the years to come is based on our past. And so, the Visual Memoirs Project was created.

The Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority (MBVCA) opened up an RFP to the community for a company to work with the City of Miami Beach and the MBVCA to recapture Miami Beach’s past and make it available to all, now and in the future. The Miami Design Preservation League in association with Close Up Productions was awarded the contract for the Visual Memoirs Project which will be a creation of a video record and catalogue of eyewitness accounts of the history of the City of Miami Beach. It will contain personal interviews, collateral materials about the history of Miami Beach and a comprehensive exhibit. This exciting project will capture the many memories of the wonderful and colorful history of Miami Beach and allow future generations to see and hear the people who have made our city GREAT.

This project is no easy feat and there has been a lot of work already done and more to do. Some of the tasks undergone, and which continue for the development and implementation of the Visual Memoirs Project and Outreach Plan, are to establish a database/list of interview participants from residents, visitors, city leaders and business owners of the City of Miami Beach and then to arrange and schedule the digital video interviews with the individuals. The field research will also include a completed biography for each interviewee, compiling all the information in a way that illustrates the history of Miami Beach. This will not only be available to the public at large but will also be used as a teaching tool in the school system giving our students a greater sense of pride for our magnificent city. To implement this educational segment, meetings were held with teachers, administrators, project participants and a student where the brainstorming sessions were successful in helping to narrow down topics and ideas for lesson plans related to Visual Memoirs.

In keeping with technology, the Visual Memoirs Project will be designed and integrated with links into the websites for the City of Miami Beach, the MBVCA and tourism partners, creating a great outreach program for not only our residents but tourists around the world through local, national and international media outlets.

At this time, approximately forty interviews have been conducted and more are contemplated which compromise a 6 – 8 minute documentary in one narrative as the format. The visual display is intended to support the documentary and provide supplemental information to visitors. The exhibit will have two main components. The first part, and the main attraction, is the documentary itself. The second part is the visual display that is intended to support the documentary and provide supplementary information to visitors. In the visual display more information will be provided on the interview subjects along with information about the project itself.

The exhibit will be open for its initial run from mid-October through late November. It will be open to the public free of charge daily from 10:00 am until 4:30 pm. The documentary will be played on a loop in the lecture hall portion of the Art Deco Welcome Center. Seating will be placed near the screen and will accommodate approximately 25 people at a time with standing room in the back.

The visual display will consist of 10 to 15 panels to emphasize the documentary narrative and support the narrative through chosen themes. Each theme will present excerpts of a few interviews relating to the topic which include: Beach Memories, Childhood in Paradise, Beach High, Social Struggles, Preservation of Miami Beach, Entrepreneurs, Development and Political Life.

The Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority took the initiative in bringing the Visual Memoirs Project to the public at large. Now it is up to you to take advantage of this remarkable endeavor and experience what made Miami Beach the wonderful city that it is by going and exploring for yourself the Visual Memoirs Project.

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Summer Fashion

By: Peggy Benua

Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority Board Member

Summer is in full swing on Miami Beach! In addition to the summer vacationers visiting from all over the world, our city is preparing to welcome fashionistas and celebrities who will come to view the latest and trendiest swimwear lines. What could be more fitting for Miami Beach in summer than models in bathing suits?

The Swimwear Association of Florida brings its 2013 SwimShow to the Miami Beach Convention Center starting on July 21stfor 4 days. This is the largest swimwear tradeshow in the world featuring nearly 2,000 brands. SwimShow offers buyers the opportunity to get a first look at the latest designs for the coming cruise season. This year also includes lingerie and an expanded selection of designs for men and children. Running July 21 – 24 with over 9,500 attendees expected; 80% of whom will be from out of town staying in our hotels and frequenting our restaurants.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim 2012 begins its 7th year in Miami Beach July 19 – 23 and is headquartered at the Raleigh Hotel. Five days of “invitation-only” shows and events will see over 12,000 journalists, photographers, buyers, and VIPs pass through two full runway venues. The activities kick off with a sizzling runway show by Diesel and the Official Kick Off party presented by SKYY Vodka around the iconic Raleigh pool.

In case you are in the market for a new bikini there are some events that are open to the public for those who wish to get in on the Swim Week action.

Funkshion fashionpalooza will present shows in tents set up in Collins Park (between 21st and 22nd on Collins Avenue) and The Setai Hotel July 14 – 17. Then from July 20 – 22 there will be a “sample sale” featuring 20 designers at the tents set up between the W Hotel and The Setai.

Local Designers will be spotlighted in a temporary “pop-up boutique” in Coco de Ville lounge at The Perry Hotel on Saturday, July 16th from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Adriana de Moura, one of the stars of Bravo-TV’s “Real Housewives of Miami” will launch her line of sunglasses, Adriana by Selima along with lines from other local South Florida designers.

On July 15th at 9pm the South Beach Men’s Show is scheduled to take place at Gemma Lounge on Lincoln Road. Tickets are $30 and are available at Actor and R&B singer Terrell Carter will also perform songs from his latest album.

One of the newest events this year is a two-day luxury sample sale that is open to the public. The event is being hosted by Salon Allure and will take place at the W South Beach on July 21 and 22 in the hotel’s Great Room. All proceeds from the sale will benefit Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation.

After picking up your new swimwear, join us at Dream South Beach for a fabulous cocktail at the rooftop High Bar!

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Our Slice of Paradise



By: Jeff Lehman

Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority Chairperson

­­I love statistics. I enjoy comparing all of the places I have lived in my lifetime, which span from Papeete, Tahiti to Miami Beach (with many stops in between) and see how well they are faring. Yes, I am probably still trying to prove that 19 years ago, I made the right decision by finally settling down in Miami Beach. I think I did. As tough as times are across our country and around the world, Miami Beach has always proven to be resilient, engaging, and constantly recreating itself.

So about those statistics on our little island:

According to, in 2009 our population was 88,065, and of those people,

Men represented 51.2% and Women 48.8%. Ethnically speaking, we were (no surprise) 49.8% Hispanic and 44.3% White non-Hispanic. 78.8% of our population has a High School Education or higher; 33.5% have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher and 15.8% have a Graduate or Professional degree.

Unemployment, which was at a remarkably low level in 2006 (3.7%) is now (as of 2011) at 9.9%. We know that construction is slowly starting to creep up, and hospitality service jobs (especially restaurant jobs) are skyrocketing. Overall, we are faring as good as or better than much of the country. A resilient environment indeed. But are we secure that we are moving in the right direction, and keeping up with the worldwide competition for businesses, clients and talent?

Miami Beach is never without its drama. It is one of the things that keep us on everybody’s minds. We are currently dealing with so many issues it is mind boggling: beach restoration, gambling, civic accountability, Memorial Day weekend, and the Convention Center to name a few. Billions of dollars on the table. Meanwhile, we are experiencing record tourism, hosting Polo on the Beach, new hotels such as SLS continue to open, and we are becoming well known for architectural significance (in addition to Art Deco) and creating a greener city (ridden a Deco Bike lately?)

The point is, we are, and if we are successful will continue to be, on the cutting edge of civic evolution. The MBVCA is committed to promoting this in all of our efforts – through significant dollars and oversight of the City of Miami Beach’s PR campaigns, the development of 21st century technological advances to enhance the visitor experience and support the residential one, and to continue to re-invest millions of bed tax dollars in attracting, sourcing and motivating world class events that further identify us. If you don’t agree with some of the things that the City is doing, then get involved! I am not referring to writing letters to the editor or even the commissioners. Roll up your sleeves and give this city some sweat equity like so many have done in the past 2 decades that I have been here, and for years before that, too. We’re still a small, diverse city (note the statistics above) and all of us can have a hand in the direction that we are going, for the good of all.

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By: Peggy Benua

Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority Board Member

Miami Beach is an iconic brand for the domestic and international tourist. Our city enjoys a reputation as a unique tropical destination offering fun and sun along with urban amenities such as shopping, world class dining and entertainment. This combination affords Miami Beach a competitive advantage over many destinations both domestic and international.

In 2010 over 12.6 million visitors came to South Florida and generated over $18.8 billion for our local economy. In Miami Beach, tourism generated $36.6 million in resort tax. The average visitor stays over 6 nights, is 42.6 years old and spends about $200 per day or $1400 in expenditures during their visit. Tourism is Miami Beach’s number one industry.

The Miami Beach Convention Center is a very important demand generator for area hotels and other businesses which rely on visitors and their spending power. The Convention Center is home to major annual shows such as the South Florida International Auto Show, Miami International Boat Show, and North America’s most important contemporary art fair, Art Basel Miami Beach.  Additionally, the facility hosts local and national corporate meetings of all sizes. In 2011, 30 meetings were held in the MBCC with an economic impact of over $138 million.

The Miami Beach Convention Center enjoys a rich history. In 1964 Mohammed Ali defeated Sonny Liston to become the youngest world boxing champion in history. In 1968 and 1972 the city hosted the Republican National Convention and in 1972, the Democratic National Convention.

But the current condition of the Convention Center puts our competitive advantage as a destination at risk. Last renovated in 1989, the Miami Beach Convention Center has not kept up with other markets in terms of size and modernization. In the last six years, the facility has had over $35 million in continuing upgrades; however, these improvements have not kept up with newer and larger convention centers in other markets. While still attractive to some meetings, other high end groups that have stated that they will not return until the center has been either modernized or expanded.

The local hotel community has been waiting 10 years for a Convention Center expansion since it was first suggested to add a ballroom to the existing facility. With the risk of losing more meetings accelerated by proposed projects across Biscayne Bay, the Center has gained additional focus and urgency; enthusiastically endorsed by local business leaders and hoteliers. The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Miami and Beaches Hotel Association are working together to support an increase in the Miami Beach resort tax by 1%, solely dedicated to Convention Center improvements. This effort has been supported by the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Convention Center Advisory Board. These groups have requested that the Mayor and City of Miami Beach Commission approve this as a voter referendum to be included on the August 2012 ballot. Referred to the City of Miami Beach Finance Committee meeting scheduled for April 19th, it is their hope that this referendum will then be approved by the City Commission at the May 9th meeting. The resort tax increase, paid by tourists, not residents, is a critical part of the overall plan to renovate the existing convention center and protect tourism on Miami Beach.