IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
In an op-ed in today’s Miami Herald, leaders of the South Florida tourism industry implore state lawmakers to not hurt the local economy by diverting funds away from tourism promotion functions, especially in the midst of the spread of coronavirus which is causing the worst hit to the tourism industry since 9/11.
The Florida House’s proposed tax bill, HB 7097, would divert $140 million a year of funds generated by local tourism taxes, which the industry uses to pay for tourism promotion, for the expansion of city governments. This would threaten the jobs of more than 120,000 hotel workers, put at risk more than $1.2 billion in sales taxes that tourists pay annually in Miami-Dade to support local and state government services, and will have a ripple effect through the regional economy.
Further, this would devastate local tourism promotion organizations’ ability to help the area’s economy rebound from losses related to the coronavirus. Hotels’ committed occupancy for March 22-28 is already down 34 percent in Miami Beach. Major events and conferences have been cancelled resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of economic loss – a number that could grow into the billions.
South Florida, as well as all the destinations across the state, need local tourism promotion now more than ever. And, they need to maintain the funds already designated for tourism promotion to keep visitors and revenue coming to Florida.
Read the op-ed below.
Coronavirus hurting Miami-Dade tourism. Florida lawmakers shouldn’t do the same | Opinion
BY FLORENCIA TABENI, JULIE GRIMES AND JULISSA KEPNER
MARCH 10, 2020 06:36 PM
The Florida House’s proposed tax bill, HB 7097, includes many excellent provisions. However, the proposal also would divert $140 million a year of funds generated by the Tourism Development Tax (TDT), Convention Development Tax (CDT) and Food & Beverage (F&B), which Miami-Dade County’s tourism industry pays for marketing. Instead, the funds would go to expand city governments.
This particular proposal is at odds with the rest of the bill, the House’s conservative agenda and the health of Miami-Dade’s economy.
In the process, funds intended for reinvestment in the tourism industry will be transformed into what amounts to a major tax increase on small- and medium-sized businesses, with our local hotel and tourism industry paying twice for the public services it receives.
Miami-Dade hotels already pay income taxes, property taxes, impact and concurrency fees, plus more to support government services. In many cities, our industry is the largest contributor of property and sales taxes, supporting the services that local residents receive.
The proposed tax changes would significantly increase costs to the tourism industry, devastating marketing provided by the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), putting the local industry at a competitive disadvantage, hurting our economy, threatening the jobs of more than 120,000 hotel workers and putting at risk more than $1.2 billion in sales taxes that tourists pay annually in Miami-Dade to support local and state government services.
This will have a ripple effect through our regional economy, hurting retail, trade, restaurants, working families and more.
Before 1985, tourism in Miami-Dade County was in decline. To address this, the TDT, CDT and F&B taxes were created when the hotel and tourism community agreed to pay additional taxes specifically to reinvest into tourism marketing programs. Our industry opted to forego a portion of profits to keep Greater Miami competitive in the global market.
Since then, GMCVB’s sales and marketing programs, along with strong community partnerships, have helped grow Greater Miami into a strong global brand, destination and cruise capital that increases in demand year-over-year. In 2018, Greater Miami saw a record 23 million visitors. For every $1 the GMCVB spends on marketing programs, the organization achieves a return of $63 of economic impact in our community, totaling billions. Over the past five years, the GMCVB sales team has booked 4,000 convention meetings bringing 2.4 million delegates and generating $1.05 billion in economic impact to our community.
The GMCVB’s efforts have also been instrumental in leading our tourism economy into recovery after 9/11, many hurricanes, oil spills, Zika and more. Today, the coronavirus is causing travel and tourism to collapse globally, the worst hit to the industry since 9/11. The State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are advising people not to travel on cruise ships. Ultra Music Festival, eMerge Americas and several other major conferences and events have been canceled or postponed.
Hotels’ committed occupancy for March 22-28 is down 34 percent year-over-year in Miami Beach, which has the largest concentration of hotels in Greater Miami. Our industry is suffering through hundreds of millions of dollars of cancellations and negative economic impact. That number could grow into the billions.
And this is just the beginning.
Our community needs the GMCVB’s tourism marketing more than ever. Florida government should allow the GMCVB to do what it does best: continue strengthening Greater Miami’s brand and market it to the world. At this critical moment, the Legislature must be careful not to hurt our local tourism industry.
Miami-Dade’s economy, jobs, and public services depend on it.
Florencia Tabeni is vice president of operations and development at the JW Marriott Miami and JW Marriott Marquis, among others. She is chairwoman of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association. Julie Grimes is managing partner at Hilton Bentley Miami Beach and Doubletree Grand Miami. She is a member of the GMBHA board. Julissa Kepner is general manager of the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay. She is a member of the GMBHA board.