MIAMI -- Greater Miami, which hosted ASTA's 1989 World Travel
Congress and attracted 7,065 delegates -- the best turnout since
Rome in 1985 -- is expected to attract more than 8,000 when ASTA
convenes here in 2003, Chris Vranas, the Society's senior vice
president of meetings, conventions and trade shows, said.
"Miami, which loves to have ASTA just about every decade, is a
huge draw," he said. "Besides domestic members, international
agents come in droves."
After congresses here in 1934 (when delegates boarded the Morro
Castle for Havana), 1952, 1964 and 1982, as well as 1989, the 2003
congress will convene for the first time in the Miami Beach
Convention Center, which dwarfs the previous venue, the Knight
Convention Center in downtown Miami.
"Our product has changed dramatically since those days," said
Mavie McHale, vice president of sales for the Greater Miami
Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"We'll have over $1 billion in new hotel products to show, which
already exceed a dozen new properties in operation or under
The new hotel plant is headed by the Loews Miami Beach, which
hosted an ASTA regional meeting last spring.
A Mandarin, three Ritz-Carltons, two Marriotts, a Crowne Plaza
and a Sonesta are planned. Although no headquarters hotel has been
named yet, delegates will be housed in all the new properties,
McHale said, as well as at newly refurbished sites.
Greater Miami, which boasts the title of Cruise Capital of the
World, will be showing off dramatic new cruise terminals and the
world's largest cruise ships. "There's been a total change in the
visitor industry since 1989," said McHale.
"The service is better, the infrastructure is stronger and the
entertainment is more exciting. Besides the rise of South Beach as
an entertainment and restaurant mecca, our visibility has risen
through the film and music industries," she added.
McHale said that Greater Miami will offer ASTA competitive hotel
rates as well as attractive terms for the convention center during
the event. "We have very heavily solicited ASTA because we want to
be very visible to ASTA and very supportive of its programs," she