tourism

New Keys hotels
8:12 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Florida Keys Adding New Hotel Rooms

The Marker Resort is Old Town Key West's first newly built hotel in about 20 years.
Credit Marker Resort / Facebook

The Florida Keys, where hotels have the highest occupancy rates and daily room rates in the state, are adding more than 1,000 new and renovated hotel rooms in the next few months.

While only a few of the rooms are brand new, some have been unavailable for years while the properties were wholly reinvented.

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News
1:35 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Florida Tourism Officials Support Relaxing U.S. Visa Rules

A new study says international tourists bring big bucks to the United States, but our visa laws hamper the potential job and revenue growth those visitors could bring.
Credit freedigitalphotos.net/Mister GC

Florida tourism officials say America’s restrictive travel visa rules are costing the Sunshine State big bucks.

The Visa Waiver Program currently allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the United States for tourism without having to obtain visas.

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Key West
1:45 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

After The Party's Over, Fantasy Fest Concerns Continue

Many Key Westers are concerned that Fantasy Fest is becoming more of a gathering for exhibitionists and voyeurs, and less of a creative costume party.
Credit Mark Hedden

Weeks after the "Fat Lady Sings" tea dance that marks the official end of Fantasy Fest, Key Westers are meeting to talk about how to change the annual event to limit raunchy behavior and increase creative costuming.

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Locals And Visitors
5:56 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Is Key West's Fantasy Fest Too Raunchy?

Michael Blades and his wife Kathy Kilroy used to work on elaborate floats for Fantasy Fest's big parade. Now they're putting their efforts into newer events that are not part of the official festival roster, like the Zombie Bike Ride.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Fantasy Fest started 35 years ago as a way to bring visitors to Key West during what had been the slowest time of the year. But locals have always been a big part of it -- the 10 days of street fairs and costume parties, and the culminating parade, for which 60,000 crowd the island's downtown.

"I was on a float for, like, 19 straight years," says Key Wester Michael Blades. He and his friends built elaborate parade entries and won the grand prize three times. But they're not entering this year.

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Key West
8:03 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

See How Tourism Changed The Florida Keys

The Custom House on Key West Harbor has been a landmark since it was built, as shown by this vintage postcard. Today the Custom House is an art and history museum, and site of an exhibit on the history of tourism.
Credit Monroe County Public Library/Scott DeWolfe collection

A new exhibit explores Key West as South Florida's oldest outpost. 

Florida Keys or Bust! A History of Tourism runs until Oct. 1 at the Custom House Museum.

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Transportation
6:21 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Once Near Closure, Fortunes Of Old Seven-Mile Bridge Are Changing

Only 2.2 miles of the Old Seven-Mile Bridge remain open to foot traffic.
Credit Arianna Prothero/WLRN

The prospects for the Old Seven-Mile Bridge in the Middle Keys have turned 180 degrees in the past several weeks. The historic bridge and popular walking spot once in danger of being shut down is now close to receiving more than $77 million for repairs and 30 years' worth of upkeep.

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Sunshine Economy
8:07 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Staring Into The Sunshine Economy: Tourism And Business In South Florida

South Florida's two ports expect trade and tourism to pick up the pace in 2014
Credit Tom Hudson / WLRN

The dawn of a new year brings with it new promises and old challenges.  

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Transit And Tours
9:17 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Homestead Launches Free National Parks Trolley

Homestead's trolley goes to and from Everglades National Park three times, and Biscayne National Park twice on Saturdays and Sundays.
Jessica Meszaros WLRN

  

About a year ago, the city of Homestead was designated "The Gateway To Biscayne and Everglades National Parks." This past weekend the city launched its first free, guided trolley ride into the parks, which the city hopes will see more local visitors with the start of the new service.

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Little Haiti
8:14 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Migrant-Centered Libreri Mapou Seeks Tourist Dollars With Cultural Appeal

Hand-painted carved wood carved into the words “Libreri Mapou” illustrate an island landscape.
Chloe Herring WLRN

Behind Libreri Mapou's pink storefront, tall bookshelves cover every wall and ceiling fans make small red, blue and white Haitian flags wave. Small, dark sculptures of dancing people are on display. The small, Haitian bookstore sells titles in Creole, French and English written by Haitians from the island and its diaspora.

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News
3:57 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Homestead Aims High With Observation-Tower Plan

A rendering of the kind of observation tower Homestead officials are considering building to lure tourists to the city's downtown.
Credit LARC, Inc.

Imagine this: You’re heading down the Florida Turnpike on your way to the Keys and spot this interesting-looking steel tower.  It’s got an observation deck that corkscrews from the ground all the way to a height of about 560 feet.

You’re gonna stop the car, right?

That’s what Homestead officials are counting on.  The city is considering building such a tower to attract tourists to its downtown.

Homestead director of community redevelopment Rick Ammirato says the city is perfectly situated to offer visitors an extraordinary view.

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Public Art
5:29 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

InterContinental Replaces Its Dancing Lady, The Modern-Day Coppertone Girl

The original dancing lady on the side of the InterContinental Hotel was first introduced in 2012 during Art Basel.
Courtesy of the InterContinental Hotel Miami

A year ago, the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Miami unveiled a 19-story-tall LED display of a shapely, female silhouette, dancing suggestively, often called "the dancing lady." The hotel recently held auditions to find new dancers. Hopefuls had one minute to dance to Pitbull’s “Hotel Room Service” to prove they had the right moves for a 200-foot LED display.

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Transportation
4:36 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Deal To Save The Keys' Old Seven-Mile Bridge Is Nearly Sealed

Various ideas to rehabilitate Old Seven have been discussed over the last several years but none have worked out.
Credit Arianna Prothero/WLRN

A long-awaited deal to fund repairs and upkeep for a historic bridge in the Middle Keys may be close to sealed.

The future of the Old Seven Mile Bridge looked bleak as salt water and storms eroded it toward a critical point where the state would be forced to shut down the last 2.2 miles of the bridge that remains open to pedestrians and cyclists.

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Arts
7:40 am
Fri November 22, 2013

What Do You Think Of The Dancing Lady In Miami's Skyline?

Credit Courtesy / Intercontinental Hotel

  

If you’ve spent any time on the MacArthur Causeway this past year, you’ve seen the 200-foot tall, shimmying silhouette of the dancing lady on the side of the Intercontinental Hotel.

The giant, multi-colored light display on the side of the building danced into our hearts – or danced us into ire—last December. Whether you love or hate the dancing lady, she’s become a staple of the Miami skyline.

But now, the lady and her suggestive moves  are about to be retired. The hotel is holding auditions for her replacement Thursday and Friday, Nov. 21 and 22.

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News
6:10 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Florida Sets Record For Tourism

Visit Florida President and CEO Will Seccombe joins Gov. Rick Scott at Busch Gardens in Tampa to announce record tourism numbers.
Credit Florida Governor's Office

The three-month period ending in September brought almost 23 million visitors to Florida. That's the highest number ever for a third quarter.

The state is on pace to welcome about 95 million tourists in 2013. That would be a record, but shy of the 100-million goal the governor’s office was hoping for this year.

And it’s not just about the theme parks. Many visitors are hitting Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach from international destinations.

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Americas
6:00 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Battling For Brazilians: Broward Challenges Dade For Latin American Tourists

Fort Lauderdale Beach is gaining more Latin American visitors, who previously beelined for Miami's oceans.
Credit Eric Barton

In the 1980s, after the bolívar crashed and Venezuelans suddenly couldn’t fly to Miami every weekend, a gaita band recorded a sardonic song whose chorus lamented, "Qué triste domingo sin Miami Beach."

How sad Sunday is without Miami Beach.

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