tourism

Kate Stein / WLRN

Are you a South Floridian who's been meaning to explore the Everglades, ride a boat on Biscayne Bay or trek through Dry Tortugas... but just never gotten around to it?

Well, now you're out of excuses. This weekend (April 22 and 23), you can visit South Florida's three national parks for free. It's part of National Park Week, which goes through Sunday. And the celebration includes abundant activities to highlight these natural, national treasures.

Renata Sago / WMFE

Florida’s support of a travel ban is surprising some in the state’s tourism industry.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joins a dozen states in urging a San Francisco federal appeals court to reinstate President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban.

Dan Fesenmaier of the University of Florida’s Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute says the action is surprising considering tourism is the state’s top industry.

“The industry here in the state has to be going crazy and concerned very much about what happens if the travel ban actually gets implemented.”

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

In an effort to bring Airbnb under some of the same regulations its competitors in the hotel industry face, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has reached an agreement with the popular home-sharing platform to collect county resort taxes.

Under the agreement, Airbnb will collect the 6 percent Miami-Dade resort tax from its hosts and remit that money to the county every month. If trends continue, that would amount to at least $8 million a year for the county, said Benjamin Breit, an Airbnb spokesman.

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Girl Guides of Canada via <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/girlguidesofcan/" target="_blank">Flickr</a>

President Donald Trump's first executive order restricting travel to the US by citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations caused chaos at US airports and was eventually suspended by the courts.

Uncertainty about the president’s newest, narrower executive order barring nationals from six Muslim-majority countries is already creating more confusion about who can and who can't travel to the US.

Tom Hudson

A Miami-based rapper. A second-tier English soccer club and a sports car racing team.

 

What ties them together is Visit Florida, the state group that markets Florida to tourists across the country and across the globe. What also ties these three together is they provided the ammunition for opponents of using taxpayer money to promote tourism.

 

Rob O'Neal / Florida Keys News Service

While tourism industry groups from around the country are warning of a drop in international visitors because of President Donald Trump's immigration policies and rhetoric, the head of the Keys tourism agency said he's hearing of a different cause.

Amanda Rabines / WLRN News

Governor Rick Scott is touring Florida to go to bat for two agencies the state legislature is trying to do away with - Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development agency, and Visit Florida, the state's tourism-marketing arm.

At a roundtable meeting in Sunrise, Wednesday, Scott talked to a room full of local business leaders about the importance of hanging on to both.

“Your tourist economy was worth $8 billion dollars last year, just in Broward County. In this county, 113,000 jobs are tied to tourism,” Scott said.

The speaker of the Florida House is trying to end funding for Visit Florida. He's claiming that the state's tourism marketing effort isn't having any noticeable impact on the number of visitors to the state.

But is it? WUSF's Steve Newborn runs the numbers by Allison Graves of PolitiFact Florida.

The Florida House is tightening the noose around two state agencies.  The idea faces high hurdles in the Senate and the governor’s mansion, but the fight sets the stage for big cuts as lawmakers develop spending plans.

Hotel taxes revenue in Miami-Dade has dropped at a rate not seen since the Great Recession, a decline in public money some attribute to tourists afraid of the Zika virus.


Tom Hudson

With record tourism comes big business, but you won’t find a front desk at one of the largest lodging groups in the state - Airbnb.

The home-sharing network has almost 33,000 hosts in Florida, generating millions of dollars for it and the hosts, basically property owners who rent a room, home or a condo for a few days to a visitor. The company calls it a short-term rental and insists it is not in competition with the hotel business.

The traditional hotel business is growing in South Florida. Here's what 2016 looked like for hotels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties:

New Visit Florida CEO Named After Pitbull Revelation

Jan 10, 2017

The Visit Florida board on Tuesday agreed to pay $73,000 to the agency's ousted CEO and appointed state Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Ken Lawson to immediately step in as a replacement.

The moves came after a controversy that included House leaders last month exposing an expired $1 million contract between the tourism-marketing agency and Miami rapper Pitbull to promote the state.

Peter Haden / WLRN

The Terminal 2 baggage claim at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport is up and running again.

data: Florida Legislature Office of Economic and Demographic Research (Dec. 15, 2016)

The Florida economy may be humming along, but there is a budget problem looming for state lawmakers. In about a year and a half, the state is forecast to see a $1 billion difference between what it collects in taxes and fees and what it spends.That is a $1.3 billion budget hole. Legislators will start tackling the anticipated budget shortfall in their next session before the red ink starts.

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday requested the resignation of the state's tourism-marketing leader amid a controversy over an expired $1 million contract with a Miami hip-hop artist whom the governor praised for his "devotion to our great state."

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