February 25, 2009

Tourism flattens out in South Florida

Tourism in the Sunshine State of Florida has dropped sharply 13 months after the U.S. recession took hold, a travel research firm said.

The critical tourism yardstick of revenue per available hotel room dropped 14 percent in Broward County and 16 percent in Miami-Dade County in January, Smith Travel Research said.

Room bookings picked up for a Jan. 8 college football championship game, but then it hits us, said Ralph Abravaya, owner of the Cavalier Hotel in South Beach, Fla., The Miami Herald reported Wednesday.

Some had hoped the newly renovated Fontainebleau and 400 rooms added to the Epic Hotel would generate some business, the newspaper said.

People still intend to travel. They just don't have the money to spend they had in the past, Nick Grossman, tourism director for Broward County said.

The downturn was also marked by declining room rates. In Miami-Dade, room rates have dropped 7 percent to an average $178 a night. In Broward County, rates fell 12 percent to $137 a night, the newspaper said.