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 April 23, 2015
Broward County Celebrates A Sunny Centennial With Record-Breaking Tourism Success

 Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County enjoyed a historic 2014, and the forecast is sunny for its 100th anniversary, as the destination leads the wave in Florida tourism with a record-breaking 14.3 million visitors spending $11.4 billion annually.

The dramatic 5% increase in 2014 of visitors drawn to the beaches, nightlife, quality lodging product, eclectic food scene and wide-ranging offerings in arts, culture nightlife and entertainment of Greater Fort Lauderdale has driven the unprecedented growth well ahead of the state's average of 3.9%. Other major factors include a rise in international visitation, up 26% over 2013, due in part to the expansion of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, including a second runway and the addition of four new airlines from Latin America. Significant investment in Broward County's Port Everglades cruise port also resulted in increases in visitor volume, as well as new ship calls and service.

Broward County currently leads all other Florida destinations in hotel occupancy -- and has continued to do so for December 2014 -- February 2015 -- following a half-decade of continued growth; with its highest-ever January (85.9%) and February (93%) on record, and March trending to be its best month yet. Group business, meetings & conventions also had a successful year with 1,056 group bookings in 2014 generating $1.01 billion in economic impact.

"We are thrilled to contribute so significantly to the overall growth of Florida's tourism industry," said Nicki E. Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). "Of the 97.3 million tourists that visit the entire state of Florida each year, 15% of those are coming to Greater Fort Lauderdale. This is significant by any measure and a tribute to the hard work and brand building efforts of our entire tourism community. It's no surprise that this success is also helping to add more exciting hotels, attractions, retail and restaurants to our landscape -- which in turn means more employment opportunities, a favorable destination image and increased quality of life for residents and visitors."

The economic impact of Broward County's tourism increases is felt locally, with one Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County tourism-related job supported for every 85 visitors, and 1 in 4 people employed in the hospitality industry.

And 2015 promises to be even better, with the CVB kicking off the year with a number of blockbuster marketing initiatives, including the Love is Love collective wedding on February 5th for 100 gay and straight couples in celebration of marriage equality. This innovative event was followed by Warm Up Chicago and Warm up Boston, the first-ever interactive bus shelter promotion that surprised and delighted freezing commuters with live city-to-city video chats with local tourism officials, bikini models on the beach and trip giveaways. Both promotions attracted millions of media impressions and consumer attention through integrated marketing endeavors including advertising, digital and public relations. To continue the momentum May through October 12, 2015, the CVB has expanded offerings on its popular 2 for 1 program, and added a highly anticipated "See You In September" hotel promotion to include special offers in coordination with successful annual promotions such as Vacation Like A VIP and Dine Out Lauderdale, providing significant value to a Greater Fort Lauderdale getaway.

Already a favorite among South Florida travelers due to its convenience and numerous low-fare carriers, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL) continues to improve facilities in order to meet higher demand. With more than 24.6 million passengers moving through the airport last year, FLL saw the arrival of four new international air carriers in 2014 -- Copa from Panama, Azul Brazilian Airlines, Tame (national carrier of Ecuador) and the Mexican carrier Volaris.

Port Everglades welcomed a year-over-year increase of 12.4% in passenger traffic as its Terminal 4 has been completely refurbished offering cruise visitors greater convenience and efficiency, and also attracting larger size cruise lines and ships. New ships welcomed to the port during the 2014/15 cruise season include the Regal Princess, Ocean Princess, and Carnival Conquest.

To meet the growing demand, the destination is also reaping the benefits of millions of dollars in hospitality-related development throughout Broward County.

Greater Fort Lauderdale's record-breaking success and 2014 highlights include:

- 14.3 million visitors in 2014 (up 5%), spending $11.4 billion
- 64 consecutive months of growth in hotel occupancy with zero negative growth
- A record-breaking $53 million in Tourist Tax revenues, a 14% increase over 2013
- Record-setting average daily room rate of $129.94, up 6.3% from 2013
- Destination awards including Tourism Office of the Year by Southeast Tourism Society, National Gold ADDY, Visit Florida Flagler Awards, Routes Awards for Excellence in Destination Marketing, and LGBT Destination of the Year by Man About World
- Film & Entertainment: a live music scene rocking with Lauderdale Live, Tortuga Music Festival and CBGB first ever spin-off, Facilitated 800+ film permits including Graceland, 12 new telenovelas, and Greater Goode film

Greater Fort Lauderdale Tourism Industry at a Glance:

Hotels

- Reinvestment: More than $222 million in improvements and renovations at 10+ hotels
- New investment: More than $704 million in new hotel development, and more than 1,000 new hotel rooms are entering the market over the next two years, including the newly-announced Gale Boutique Hotel & Residences, Meliá Costa Hollywood, Conrad, Four Seasons, and the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, Hyde Resort & Residences, and Beachwalk in Hallandale Beach
- In total, 54 projects with 8,910 rooms are in construction now, with 117 more projects encompassing 13,185 rooms in the final planning stage. Another 14,778 rooms --- 54 more projects --- are in the planning phase
- Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR): Grew every month in 2014 compared to 2013, and the first two months of 2015 are up by 12.2%

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

- Total passenger traffic in 2014 was 24,648,306, up 4.6% over 2013
- February 2015 saw a 10.8% increase in total passenger traffic over the same period in 2014
- FLL was the fastest growing large US airport, spurred by an increase in international traffic to 4,659,756 passengers in 2014, up 26.0% over 2013. FLL ranked 12th in total international traffic
- FLL saw the arrival of four new international air carriers: Copa from Panama, Azul Brazilian Airlines, Tame (national carrier of Ecuador) and the Mexican carrier Volaris

Port Everglades

- Total passenger traffic in 2014 was 4,001,554, 12.4% over 2013
- Port Everglades completely remodeled its Cruise Terminal 4 with $24 million worth of renovations and upgrades designed for greater ship and passenger efficiency and convenience
- New ships in 2014/15 Cruise Season: Regal Princess, Ocean Princess, Carnival Conquest
- Next in 2015/16 Season: Balearia's Cruise Ferry Bahama Mama -- 1,000 passengers, 300 voyages, and 200,000 estimated annual guests. Costa Cruises will be returning to Port Everglades following a four-year hiatus with the 2,826-passenger Costa Deliziosa.

Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County

From the seagrass to the sawgrass, Greater Fort Lauderdale boasts more than 34,000 lodging accommodations at a variety of hotels, luxury spa resorts, and Superior Small Lodgings reflecting a "beach chic" vibe. Visitors enjoy 23 miles of Blue Wave certified beaches, discover 300+ miles of inland waterways that run from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Everglades, dine at thousands of restaurants and eateries, get immersed in a thriving arts and culture scene and indulge in top shopping.

In 2015, Broward County celebrates its centennial with an active calendar of special events, culminating in the October 2-4 Duende celebration in downtown Fort Lauderdale and satellite locations throughout the county. Programming will include family-friendly activities, a theatrical performance and a light show.

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@visitlauderdale