Tourism Means BusinessThe Influence of International Visitors, New Residents, and Affluent Travelers with an Average Income over $100,000 Drives Unprecedented Economic Growth

Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County is in the midst of unprecedented economic development, with new research revealing an influx of affluent visitors as the driving force behind new travel and hospitality-related construction and investment.

The average annual income of domestic travelers to the destination has reached $112,563 – almost 25% higher than the national average, according to a comprehensive analysis of the domestic travel market in the United States by research firm D. K. Shifflet & Associates Ltd., commissioned by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

That is a dramatic 15.5% increase from the destination’s average in 2012 of $97,517, placing Greater Fort Lauderdale among the top leisure destinations in the U.S., and well above the national average visitor income of $90,591.

This increasing appeal to affluent travelers has led to a record-breaking 14.3 million tourists spending $11.4 billion annually in the destination, which is situated along Florida’s famed Atlantic Ocean coastline between Miami and Palm Beach.

Developers and investors are racing to meet the demand of this new affluent market with more than $1+ billion in hotel and condo investment in Broward County communities like Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Hallandale Beach and Sunrise, among others. In total, Broward County encompasses 31 municipalities and spans 1,230 square miles with a population of 1.8 million.

More than $704+ million in new hotel development is currently underway in Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County, with more than 1,000 new hotel rooms entering the market over the next two years. Another $222+ million in improvements and renovations are earmarked at more than 10 hotels.

“What we are seeing is the next wave of transformation happening everywhere across Broward County with an increase of affluent visitors stimulating significant luxury investment here,” said Nicki E. Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Month after month and year after year, we are experiencing tremendous growth in our visitor numbers. There are many factors contributing to this success, including our increasingly popular lifestyle appeal. In the next two years we will have a new landscape and horizon with exciting new high-rise towers, beautifully designed condos, and landmark hotels attracting the high-end market.”

Some of the top developments in Fort Lauderdale include the $500 million Auberge Beach Residences & Spa (opening 2017), the $200 million Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences (opening 2018), the $120 million Gale Boutique Hotel & Residences Fort Lauderdale Beach (opening 2017), and the $40 million Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, which will open later this year. The Ocean Resort Residences at the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach are starting in the $400,000s range for a condo at the private residences.

In Hollywood, the $147 million Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort opened in September, while the $180 million Meliá Costa Hollywood will open in 2016 and the $240 million Hyde Resort & Residences will open in phases from 2016 to 2018.

The destination has also seen the $150 million Beachwalk Resort development open in Hallandale Beach in 2015.

Beyond these openings are mega developments in various stages of planning to open between 2017 and 2022, including the $ 1 billion “Metropica” development in Sunrise in the western part of the county, a $750 million development at the Galleria at Fort Lauderdale, and a $600 million Broward County Convention Center Hotel and facility expansion.

"In development terms, new construction projects and the redevelopment of oceanfront properties are being fast-tracked to keep up with demand,” said Andreas Ioannou, CEO of Orchestra Hotels & Resorts, which is developing The Ocean Resort Residences at Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort and owns the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. “This is not a case of ‘If you build it, they will come’. Travelers, buyers and new residents are coming so fast, and spending so much when they arrive, that their influence can’t be ignored by investors and developers.”

Of the 98.9 million tourists that visit the entire state of Florida each year, 15% of those are coming to Greater Fort Lauderdale.

With demand outstripping supply, Broward County has experienced 70 consecutive months of continued growth and has a current year-to-date hotel occupancy rate of 81.1%. That is ahead of the Florida average of 74.9%, and the nation-wide average of 67.2%.

The most affluent of those that earn more than $100,000 annually come from New York, NY (26%), Washington, DC (7.7%), Dallas-Fort Worth, TX (6.9%), and Boston, MA (6.9%), and spend on average $1,531 per stay, according to the 2014 Greater Fort Lauderdale Visitor Profile conducted by D.K. Shifflet & Associates.

Once in the destination, 64% of the visitors are choosing to spend their time along the 23 miles of Blue Wave-certified beaches and 300 miles of navigable waterways, while 42% engaged in culinary and dining experiences, 34% spend time experiencing the nightlife and gaming, and 33% do some shopping at malls and outlet stores.

“From the world-class beaches and high-end dining to endless entertainment and luxury shopping, it’s easy to see why we are attracting affluent visitors to Broward County,” said Bob Swindell, President and CEO, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. “But the exciting part is that they’re choosing to stay, live and do business here. Of our 1.8 million population, 67.8% have settled here from outside Florida, 33.2% have a college degree or higher, and 43.7% are under the age of 35 which will be a great workforce for the future.”

Contributing to the population growth is a robust employment environment at leading county industries, including professional and business services, education, health, leisure and hospitality, financial activities and construction.

The county’s tourism and transport infrastructure is also expanding to keep pace with the growth of the destination.

A $2.3 billion expansion and runway extension to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) - the fastest growing US airport spurred by an increase in international traffic to 4,659,756 passengers in 2014, up 26.0% over 2013.

At Port Everglades, $1.6 billion is being invested in capital improvements to accommodate a forecast of 5.6 million annual passenger moves by 2033. In 2014, total passenger traffic was 4,001,554, a 12.4% increase over 2013.

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About Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County 
From the seagrass to the sawgrass, Greater Fort Lauderdale, located in Broward County, 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.

For more information, contact the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 22-SUNNY or visit Get social and engage with Greater Fort Lauderdale on social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, and Pinterest: @visitlauderdale.

Media Contact: 
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