Zika Stung Miami Hotels Last Year


Miami's tourism numbers were affected in 2016 by a three-punch combination of a growing number of hotel rooms, Airbnb and the Zika scare.

While the overall number of room nights did grow slightly -- by 1.4 percent, according to a story this week in the Miami Herald -- Miami-Dade County was one of only two top-25 markets in the country to see a decline in the main hotel industry metrics in 2016. The other was Houston, which was hit by oil price declines and the resultant industry woes.

Quoting data and analytics firm STR, the Herald noted that a 4.2 percent increase in hotel rooms coincided with a 2.7 percent drop in occupancy, 2.9 percent decrease in the average daily rate of hotel rooms, and a 5.5 percent drop in revenue per available room.

Another major factor in the city's numbers was the Zika scare, particularly after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared Miami "ground zero" for Zika infections in the continental U.S. -- although the city had a very small number of cases compared with other destinations. Unsurprisingly, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that its Downtown neighborhood -- near the heart of the Zika warnings -- saw the biggest decline in occupancy, down 6.3 percent in 2016. Surfside/Bal Harbor took the biggest hit in room rate (down 10.4 percent) and in RevPAR (down 11.7 percent).

The Herald added that another STR report released this year found that Airbnb accounted for 3.6 percent of Miami's room-nights for the year ending in July.

For all that, the GMCVB reported a 2.6 percent increase in visitors for the first nine months of 2016, to nearly 12 million, in its November Travel & Tourism Industry Forum.