The internationally renowned City of Miami Beach is more than just a top tourist destination: it is also a premier city in which to live and work. Residents benefit greatly from tourism revenue, which lowers property taxes, stimulates job growth, and supports city services. Thus, maintaining world class venues is a critical ingredient to both Miami Beach’s success and its residents’ welfare. An upcoming referendum vote on a resort tax increase to fund renovations to the Miami Beach Convention Center would achieve just this. This visitor tax will not go into effect until the project commences.
Home to large-scale events such as the Miami International Boat Show and North America’s premier contemporary art fair Art Basel, the Miami Beach Convention Center boasts over 1,000,000 square feet of event space. Formerly ranked in the top five convention centers nationally, the Miami Beach Convention Center has fallen sharply to the mid-twenties in recent years after losing business to competitors’ newer and larger event spaces. To avoid the risk of losing corporate clientele like Nike, IBM and Microsoft which are the more lucrative conventions bringing the highest dollars to the area, the convention center is proposing improvements to its facility: renovation of its existing convention center and a 60,000 square foot ballroom.
“An increased bed tax is not going to scare the tourists away, it’s going to produce a better time for them, if the money is spent correctly,” said Ray Breslin, President of the Collins Park Neighborhood Association & a city activist.
The multimillion dollar project will be made possible by a simple increase of up to 1% in the Miami Beach resort tax, a fee which visitors and hotel or short-term rental guests pay to the city. Residents are not affected. Currently at 3%, the resort tax would increase to roughly 4% and increase Miami Beach’s total hotel tax to 14%, still keeping below other major cities such as Boston, New York City and Houston where the hotel tax can reach as high as 21%. The city needs the citizens of Miami Beach to approve this visitor tax increase, and in turn help the convention center become competitive once again. Renovations and expansion of this extent will enhance the quality of life for the residents of Miami Beach for many years to come, allowing the innumerable tourists who use our services to re-invest in our community.
“It has been more than three decades since the last renovation of the Miami Beach Convention Center,” says William D. Talbert, III, CDME President & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our customers and potential customers tell us that the Miami Beach Convention Center is in need of improvements in order for them to bring their business to our community. The amendment to increase the resort tax for hotel guests on Miami Beach by up to one percent will be solely for expanding, enlarging, renovating and improving the Miami Beach Convention Center and will provide a vital source of funding. I want to re-emphasize that the [resort] tax is paid only by tourists/hotel guests on Miami Beach,” added Talbert.