South Florida Tourism Officials Seeing A Summer Bounce Back

CBS4's Hank Tester reports on the upcoming summer tourism and how it will potentially offer a bounce back.

Video Transcript

- [INAUDIBLE] known for its beautiful beaches. And as summer tourism season is upon us, that's good news in terms of our recovery from the pandemic. Hotels are now beginning to show occupancy that equals 2019 and certainly far better than pandemic plague 2020. CBS4's Hank Tester has more details.

HANK TESTER: It will be a summer like no other in the wake of the pandemic. Tourism, in the last 14 months, the area's economic engine, crippled, now on a comeback, according to the two folks responsible for promoting tourism-- Bill Talbert from the Greater Miami Convention Visitors Bureau, Stacy Ritter President of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.

BILL TALBERT: To think that we're doing this well back at 2019 level without cruises, without international, and without meetings and events tells me that we have a bright, bright future in hospitality in greater Miami and Miami Beach.

STACY RITTER: There is great pent up demand here. And people do want to get out. And we are very-- that's why we are anticipating a greater than traditional summer.

HANK TESTER: With international travel still problematic for Americans, travel within the US is getting the call. And American travelers, not Europeans, not Canadians, not South Americans, are checking in to South Florida hotels and restaurants, not to mention locals who are renting on the beaches and dining out as restrictions are relaxed.

STACY RITTER: Now we're planning for domestic travel, a drive-in market, and then some fly-in because we see people have actually started to get back on airplanes.

HANK TESTER: Air traffic critical for South Florida where 90% of the tourists who choose South Florida come through the area airports. Both major airports busy, but not back to seasonal numbers, but getting there. The big hole, cruise ships not sailing, plans, yes, but the summer ticking by and hotels impacted by lack of cruise ships.

BILL TALBERT: The cruise industry is not traveling yet. You know, they're a big consumer of hotels, particularly in downtown Miami.

HANK TESTER: The return of cruise ships sailing for Port Everglades possibly late this month will add to summer tourism numbers.

STACY RITTER: We get two million passengers a year. And the fact that we haven't had any has been pretty devastating for us.

HANK TESTER: So the hotels, motels, restaurants leaning on local and regional visitors getting by. This summer?

STACY RITTER: This is not going to be a slow summer.

HANK TESTER: Well, Stacy Ritter will tell you this summer for the tourism industry, not going to be a record setter, but darn good, considering what the tourism industry has gone through. I'm Hank Tester, CBS4 News.