Posted on Sunday, 12.04.11
The readers’ forum
A community that cares
Re Norman Braman’s Nov. 27 Other Views column, Don’t buy the hype: As a long-time member of the hospitality industry in Miami, I find the piece’s definition of destination resorts humorous. Keeping our visitors locked up in their hotels is a statement that defies the history of Miami Beach tourism.
Destination resorts simply mean visitors from outside the state coming to visit. Disney and Universal are destination resorts as are the Fontainebleau Hotel and Carnival Cruises Lines. Why do people compare us to Atlantic City and Las Vegas? Why don’t they compare us to London or Moscow, both of which have casinos?
Last time I looked neither one of these world-class cities were defined as gaming centers fraught with drugs and prostitution. Are we now being told that we aren’t a first class city? Disney, which is funding many of the anti-gaming organizations, has the chutzpah to cry out that these proposed casinos will hurt the state, in particular their business.
I’m the only one I know that was managing a hotel on Miami Beach when Disney opened. Did we shut our doors and crawl into a corner? Quite the contrary. Last year, 82 million overnight visitors came to Florida of which 13 million came to Miami. That means 69 million went elsewhere including 44 million to Disney. Will two or three South Florida casino resorts pose a threat?
I agree that we have a lot going for us in this community. However, using Genting as the model for this legislative effort is both wrong and unfair. I don’t subscribe to 5,200 rooms, 50 restaurants and an 800,000 square foot casino. This community, not individuals, will not allow us to be swallowed up. Steve Wynn or Sheldon Adelson of the Sands are proposing convention space and hotels in the range
of 1,000-1,500 rooms and are unjustly being lumped together with Genting when in fact they will complement our community.
The issue has clearly sparked community dialogue. Let’s deal with facts and not emotional reaction. At the end of the day I believe this community will not be bullied. We will make the right decision. To think otherwise assumes that the community doesn’t care.
Stu Blumberg, Miami