"We are extremely pleased with our performance," Port Director Bill Johnson told more than 1,200 business and civic leaders who participated in today's annual State of the Ports Briefing at the Miami Airport Convention Center. "The seven percent increase in container volumes follows a five percent growth the previous year-solid performances in view of the ongoing uncertainties in the global economy."
Johnson joined Miami International Airport Director Jose Abreu in updating the community on developments in the maritime and aviation industries-Miami-Dade County's largest economic engines.
Cruise traffic tops 4 million
In 2011, for the fourth year in a row, four million plus cruise vacationers traveled through PortMiami-more than any other port in the world.
"No other cruise port in the world comes close to matching our passenger traffic," Johnson said.
In other cruise news, Johnson said the Port is adding three additional cruise lines including Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines, MSC Cruises, and Disney Cruise Line. Additionally, the Port will welcome three new-build ships this year now under construction in Europe-the Celebrity Reflection, the Carnival Breeze and the Oceania Riviera.
"These new cruise ships will rank among the most exciting and innovative in the world adding to our already distinguished galaxy of cruise vessels," Johnson said. "Globally only four new ships will be introduced in the U.S. this year-and three will come here to PortMiami."
Strong cargo performance
Johnson noted that over the last several years PortMiami has outperformed many large container ports in the U.S. due in part to the strength of Latin American economies. More than 50 percent of its trade is with South and Central American nations.
"The strength of the Latin American economies continues to benefit our Port," Johnson said. "Known worldwide as the Gateway to the Americas, PortMiami continues to grow as a logistical hub linking North and South America."
In his speech, Johnson stated that PortMiami has set an ambitious goal to double its cargo traffic over the next decade that would provide a boost not only to South Florida's economy, but the entire state.
"Today, the State of Florida ranks number four in the U.S. for trade-but we can be number one," Johnson said. "Thanks to our trio of infrastructure projects-the port tunnel, on-port rail and the Deep Dredge-we are well-positioned to capture new trade
with Asian markets."
Johnson expects the growth pattern to increase significantly once the expanded Panama Canal opens in 2014 and trade patterns shift in favor of Atlantic ports which meet depth requirements to accommodate the new, super-sized cargo vessels. PortMiami is scheduled to be at the required -50 feet depth to handle Post-Panamax ships at the same time the Canal expansion is completed.
"As the closest U.S. port to the Canal, PortMiami will be the first port of call out of Panama for shippers seeking all-water routes to East Coast markets," Johnson said. "This is our big win-but we must deepen our channel to a depth of -50 feet."
For more information about PortMiami please visit: www.miamidade.gov/portofmiami.