South Florida's hotel industry saw higher occupancy in March from a year ago but rates slip

South Florida's hotel industry saw higher occupancy in March from a year ago but rates slip

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South Florida’s hotel sector posted improvements in occupancy in March. But room rates were lower from a year ago, a new industry report released Wednesday shows.

Palm Beach County led the upswing in March hotel occupancy with 87.4 percent, versus 84.6 percent in the same month last year, according to STR, a national tracker of hotel industry performance, based in Tennessee.

Broward County saw 87.3 percent hotel occupancy last month, up from 86.5 percent a year ago. And Miami-Dade County hotels were slightly fuller at 85.7 percent, compared with 84 percent last year.

Average daily room rates, however, continued to fall in March as they have this year for most of South Florida.

In Palm Beach County, ADR slipped slightly to $244.34 from $245.18 a year ago, and in Broward, the average room rate declined to $180.51 from $185.57 in March 2016, STR data showed. While Miami-Dade saw its ADR dip to $233.36 versus $250.71 last year.

In two counties – Broward and Miami-Dade - revenue per available room or RevPar, another key metric of the industry’s health, also dipped last month to $157.68 and $200.09 respectively from $160.57 and $210.60 in March 2016. However Palm Beach County enjoyed a slight uptick in RevPar to $213.50 from $207.30 last year.

Still business from groups and meetings has been an upside in some areas, and has helped to bolster March results.

For March, Discover The Palm Beaches, the Palm Beach County’s official tourism marketer nearly doubled the amount of hotel room nights it booked for groups and meetings that month from a year ago. In all, 11,081 hotel room nights were sold for March 2017 compared to 5,705 in the same month last year, marking a 94 percent increase, the agency said.

The opening of its newest sports attraction, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, also played a positive role.

The new Major League Baseball spring training complex for the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals has been attracting new visitors to the destination since opening in February, Discover officials have said.

Meanwhile Broward also enjoyed a 3 percent uptick in group business during the first quarter compared to the same period in 2016, according to its tourism marketing arm, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

In all, the more than a dozen groups that held meetings in Broward in March including Seatrade Cruise Global and Citi 2017 Global Property CEO Conference were expected to generate more than $25 million in economic impact in the area, the tourism bureau said.

Seatrade for its second run in Broward was held at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, while the Citi conference convened at the newly-renovated Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood.

Also in spite of the busy Easter holiday falling later this year in April rather than in March as it did in 2016, the month was still strong for tourism in Greater Fort Lauderdale, the tourism bureau said.

For the first quarter of 2017, Broward also clocked the highest occupancy of 84.7 in South Florida, ahead of Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, which had 83.9 percent and 82 percent respectively, the tourism bureau noted. It also beat out Key West, which had 84.2 percent occupancy.

So far this year, extenuating factors continuing to impact Broward’s tourism industry include the strong U.S. dollar and economic down turns in key international feeder markets such as Brazil, as well as ripple effects from travel policies enacted by the new Trump Administration, the tourism bureau said.



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