Destination Experiences Four Years of Tourism Growth
A dramatic increase in international and domestic tourists drawn to the beaches, nightlife, emerging food scene and underground entertainment offerings of Greater Fort Lauderdale has driven 50 consecutive months of tourism growth, with a record-breaking 13.1 million visitors spending $10.6 billion in the past year.
Year-end 2013 proved to be a milestone for the destination, with hotel occupancy rounding out at 74.7%; up 3.2% over 2012 and average daily hotel rates at $119.33; up 4.1% over 2012. But after more than four years of growth in hotel occupancy rates, 2014 started with the highest occupancy rate on record for the month of January (83.2%), an increase of 3.8% over 2013, making it the second-highest in Florida and ahead of the national U.S. average. With an unseasonable cold and brutal winter throughout the U.S., February and March 2014 are expected to garner a 4% increase in hotel occupancy rates over 2013 with a 90% occupancy rate this year for the remaining months of the quarter.
The unprecedented growth is expected to continue as airlines add new routes into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), which saw more than 3.6 million international visitors in 2013, an annual increase of 2.8%. The increase in international passengers made December 2013 the busiest December in the history of the airport, with international traffic now accounting for 16% of total traffic compared to 7% just 10 years ago.
"Mother Nature has become a marketing partner," said Nicki E. Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Once our visitors thaw out, they are enjoying a destination with new appeal, including foodie experiences, live music, underground entertainment, gaming, and more."
The impact is felt locally, with one tourism-related job created for every 85 visitors, and more than $10.6 billion in economic impact.
Greater Fort Lauderdale's record-breaking success highlights include:
• 13.1 million visitors, spending $10.6 billion in 2013.
• 50 consecutive months of growth in hotel occupancy.
• In 2013, Greater Fort Lauderdale received $47.7 million in Tourist Tax revenues, an 8.8% increase over 2012, which will be used to promote the destination and create new jobs.
• A 3.8 % increase in hotel occupancy for January 2014 over the year before and the destination's highest occupancy rate on record for that month.
FLL Airlift Update
JetBlue has been the driving force in international passenger growth at FLL, adding several new international markets in 2013 including Medellin, Colombia and San Jose, Costa Rica in June; Lima, Peru in November; and Port au Prince, Haiti in December. They will also add several new international routes in May to Montego Bay, Jamaica; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Norwegian Air Shuttle's additional flight to Copenhagen began March 5, bringing the total to seven flights weekly to FLL from Scandinavia aboard the airline. In July, Norwegian will fly nonstop from London-Gatwick to FLL.
The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport's growth highlights include:
• The busiest December in the history of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in 2013.
• A year-over-year increase of 2.8% in international traffic to 3,698,567 passengers. International traffic is now 16% of total traffic compared to 7% in 2003.
• Leading the way in growth; Silver was up 31.9%, AirTran was up 16.7%, Air Canada was up 13.4%, JetBlue was up 7.8%, United was up 5.6%, US Airways was up 2.9%, and Allegiant was up 1.9%.
For more information, visit www.sunny.org.