I left the farm in Boise.
Pittsburgh was too noisy.
I got fed up wit New Joisey.
Miami is for me.
A counterattack on Miami's crime-and-drug-soiled image will soon send this jingle around the world, and Miami officials hope the tune will catch on like "I Love New York."
Boston was too chilly.
Frisco was too hilly.
I got so bored in Philly.
Miami is for me.
Originally designed to build Miami's image among local residents, the booster campaign seemed so successful that tourist officials decided to market it elsewhere along with another new slogan: "Can't Get Enough of Miami."
D.C. wasn't sunny.
L.A. was kinda funny.
New York cost too much money.
Miami is for me.
"We're not trying to hide problems.... We're trying to get people fired up," Marshall Harris, a lawyer and civic booster, said in announcing the campaign.
The new theme will coincide with neighboring Miami Beach's new campaign as "America's Tropics." In one 30-second spot featuring young and old couples basking in the sun, an announcer describes Miami Beach as "in this country, but out of this world."
Part of the problem was that the previous Miami area "See It Like a Native" campaign had been parodied over illustrations of fiery riots and views down the barrel of a handgun. Now there will be T-shirts, bumper stickers, lapel pins, billboards and a speaker's bureau. "We're getting a lot of requests for the buttons," said Lew Price, director of the Metro Dade Department of Tourism. The buttons show a thumbs-up sign with the "Miami Is for Me" slogan.
In short, area officials have launched a vigorous effort to recover Miami's image as "The Magic City." Despite a sagging economy that has further crippled tourism here, officials cite these positive improvements:
* The new 160-acre cageless Metrozoo, which was so busy during the Christmas holidays that it had to occasionally shut its gates (see story on Page E2).
* The nearly completed widening of Miami Beach's 7.5 miles of sand. After five years of construction, the once-eroded beach is 300 feet wide. One 1.7-mile span will feature a lushly landscaped, boardwalk-style promenade, and the city is encouraging hotels to open shops and restaurants facing the beach.
* The construction of 14 new hotels, adding more than 7,000 rooms in Dade County, including a new Hyatt-Regency hotel which will be part of a new $100-million convention and conference center downtown. A boom in business travel is expected to result from the area's continued growth as a financial center and to push it closer to the major leagues of convention cities.
* New cultural attractions: Art Deco Weekend on Miami Beach, ending today; the fourth annual Big Orange performing arts festival during February; a nine-day Miami Carnaval in Little Havana in March and a $4.8-million New World Festival of the Arts, featuring 27 specially commissioned world premieres in June.
* An estimated $1.65 billion in private and public construction in Miami's central business district, adding this year 4.5-million square feet of office space, 3,500 hotel rooms, 5,600 middle- and upper-income residential units and 900,000 square feet of retail space. The magnitude of this construction is among the greatest of any downtown area in the nation.
* Eight new cruise ships in the Port of Miami, bringing the total to 29 in the world's busiest cruise port. The newest, Carnival Cruise Line's Tropicale, and three Norwegian World Cruises ships, will begin operating early this year. Miami's biggest cruise line, Norwegian Caribbean's five-ship fleet, has added live Las Vegas-style gambling on its ships for the first time.
* A community-wide determination to reduce crime through Miami Citizens Against Crime, a campaign sponsored by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. A primary goal calls on the federal government to "meet its obligations" in combating drug trafficking and illegal aliens, and another seeks measures to increase the visibility and effectiveness of law enforcement in the area.
In an initial report, the organization produced statistics to show that, while murder is up, Dade County's violent crime wave crested about a year ago and has been slowly leveling off and, in some cases, decreasing. Law enforcement officials blame 40 percent of the homicides on drugs and say that many of the victims in sometimes dramatic execution-style slayings are illegal aliens.
"There is an inordinate fear of crime here," said Niesen Kasdin, a young lawyer who was born in Miami Beach, "but crime is not concentrated in the upbeat tourist areas."
On Miami Beach, police recently installed 112 video cameras designed to intimidate criminals who prey on elderly residents and tourists. The cameras, which will be monitored in a police command post as security cameras are monitored in many stores, will not all be operational at the same time. However, the public will not be able to know which ones are functioning at any moment.
"There's a psychological advantage to it," said jewelry store manager Frank Holtzman. "Maybe the crooks will stay away."
As part of "Operation Safe Streets," the Miami Beach Police Department also has mobilized a new foot patrol of 25 policemen, aided by a dog, three horses and two electric carts. "We're putting street vagrants on notice that the police are nearby." said officer Tom Hoolihan.
"I don't think we've been treated fairly," said Ronald Wissow, marketing director of the Miami Beach Visitors and Convention Authority. "If you're coming to Miami Beach to traffic in drugs, it's very dangerous. But if you're coming to vacation and enjoy life, you're probably coming to the safest city in the world."
For more than a year, Miami has been suffering. Last September, the FBI's latest crime statistics showed Miami-Dade County as the most crime-ridden geographical area in America. Miami-Dade County had the nation's highest murder rate and was second in burglaries. Of the top 10 most crime-infested communities, six were in Florida -- Miami-Dade, Gainesville, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee.
Coupled with this, about 70 percent of all the cocaine and marijuana seized by U.S. Customs nationwide is confiscated in South Florida.
And beginning in December 1980, the tourist business suffered because of an unseasonably cool 1980-81 winter, rising attention to crime, recession and a generally negative image. Domestic tourism was off about 10 percent in 1981. Although international travel was up about 14 percent, it did not compare favorably to the 25-percent increase among international visitors the previous year. Hotel occupancy rates across Florida for early December 1981 averaged only 49 percent.
"Even with the crime problem, which is tragic, we think the underlying problem is the economy," said Price, basing his conclusions on surveys of other resorts troubled by crime.
"With the disposable income people have, they won't be able to stay as long in Miami," he said. "We think we're going to have a good winter season -- short, but good. This year at least the weather is on our side." Since Christmas, daytime temperatures have risen to the mid-80s.
He predicted the post-Christmas airline fare war, which reduced one way fares to $107 midweek between Florida and New York or Washington and to $99 midweek between West Palm Beach and Chicago, will help. The fares are expected to remain in effect at least through February.
Others, however, are less optimistic.
"The winter was soft, the summer was soft, the fall was soft, and we don't feel very happy about what we expect in the future," said Chuck Rosen, president of the Sunny Isles Resort Association, where hotel occupancy fell to 48 percent in October. "We are very apprehensive at this point. When business is soft, our hoteliers don't keep up their property, so our image isn't good from that point.... I don't think anyone has had a profitable time in the past six months."
Rosen and others cite more long-term competition -- heavy promotion and improvement of Caribbean resorts, overbuilding of Miami Beach which helped destroy its resort character and replaced tourists with residents in condos, Disneyworld and new theme parks in central Florida, and fashion.
"Like everything else, there are styles," said Ed Kanbar, a Miami lawyer who lives on Miami Beach. "Everyone says Miami Beach is not the place to go anymore"
"It's still looked on as an old people's resort," said Sue Gilbert, 32, of Rye, N.Y., on a recent visit to Miami Beach.
No new hotels have been built on Miami Beach since 1967. The trend has been conversion to condominiums. Since 1978, when developer Stephen Muss bought the Fontainebleau Hilton and poured $30 million into a complete face lift, about 40 percent of the other beach front hotels have undergone remodeling.
Meanwhile, a proposal for a new 1,600-unit convention hotel has been submitted to Miami Beach officials, and breaking tradition, Muss is converting a condominium in his Seacoast Towers complex into a luxury hotel. The billion-dollar redevelopment scheme for South Beach is still stalled, but nearby some energetic entrepreneurs are beginning to renovate quaint Depression-era apartment hotels into what could become a revitalized Art Deco district reminiscent of the once-charming winter resort of the 1930s.
Some hoteliers believe introduction of casino gambling is the type of major impetus necessary to really make a difference. But the subject has not gained widespread support in this time of anti-crime campaigns.
Nevertheless, the latest tourist statistics have encouraged officials that times may be changing. Advance hotel bookings for the first quarter of 1982 are up 6 percent for the first increase in more than a year, according to the county tourism department. And the 1,224-room Fontainebleau was sold out for the first two weeks in January, which is normally a soft period.
"This year probably will not be the greatest percentage change," said tourism statistician Arthur Ellick, "but it will show a solid growth and hopefully a return to Miami's tourism prosperity."