tourism

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."

Rapper Pitbull released his $1 million contract with Florida's tourism marketing agency two days after the House speaker sued to find out details of the agreement.

Pitbull used Twitter to make the contract public on Thursday. He tweeted "*FULL DISCLOSURE – FLORIDA*" with a link to the 11-page agreement.

'Sexy Beaches' Get Rocky As Florida House Sues Over Pitbull Contract

Dec 14, 2016

Florida lawmakers want a judge to force a production company to say how much Armando Christian Perez, better known as the rapper Pitbull, was paid by the state's tourism-marketing arm to be a musical ambassador.

On a recent fall morning, a large crowd clogged the steps at one of Venice's main tourist sites, the Rialto Bridge. But on this day, there was a twist: it was filled with Venetians, not tourists.

"People are cheering and holding their carts in the air," says Giovanni Claudio Di Giorgio, who helped organize the march with a grass-roots organization called Generazione '90.

The carts he refers to are small shopping carts — the symbol of a true Venetian.

A hurricane that hit North Florida, the continued spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus and a horrific massacre in Orlando haven't slowed the appeal of the Sunshine State for tourists, according to state officials.

Tom Hudson

During the Great Recession, the cruise industry canceled or postponed building and introducing new cruise liners trying to conserve cash as passenger traffic was hurt by the sour economy. Now, those ships are entering the oceans and many of them have South Florida ports of call.

 

A series of explosions has struck at least five tourism-heavy areas in Thailand, killing at least four people and injuring dozens.

As NPR's Elise Hu tells our Newscast unit, no group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. Here's more from Elise:

It was a landmark month for breeding endangered animals at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

The park recently welcomed six baby Galapagos tortoises and an Indian gharial, similar to a crocodile, representing the first time that either species has been successfully bred at the park. 


The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is inviting people to use a hotline to report algal bloom sightings. Florida residents can call in reports to the toll free number at 1-855-305-3903.

This follows a state of emergency in two South Florida counties because of blue-green algae.

There’s also a website: www.reportalgalbloom.com,  where people can report where and when they saw a new algal bloom.

Netflix

  The Netflix TV series "Bloodline" has added millions of dollars to the local economy and employed hundreds of people in the Florida Keys. But a study commissioned by the region's tourism agency says the bigger benefit is in tourism.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

  Every year in late October, tens of thousands of people visit Key West for the 10 days of parties and parades known as Fantasy Fest.

It's the island's biggest event of the year, and it fills hotel rooms, bars and restaurants. But it also costs the city more than $280,000 for clean-up and policing.

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