tourism

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The Florida Keys have been under a moratorium on new hotel rooms for decades. But the islands are seeing a flood of new properties open, mostly through renovations and conversions.

In all, about 1,000 new rooms are being added or coming back on line after being closed for renovation and rebuilding. The Keys have a total of 15,000 lodging units, which includes hotel rooms, RV spots and short-term vacation rentals.

Tom Hudson

A LITTLE HISTORY

Ian Schrager and Lloyd Mandell used to be neighbors. 

One is an iconoclast who made a fortune (and went to prison for tax evasion) as co-founder of the famed Studio 54 nightclub in New York, and the other a Miami Beach native whose dad owned a gas station where a Starbucks now stands on West Avenue.

The two men are in the same business now, technically. But they came to it in different ways.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Visit Florida, the state’s tourism agency, is promoting the rich history of  two of Florida’s historic black neighborhoods for Black History Month.

Miami’s Overtown neighborhood will be featured in a national commercial that highlights its past as “The Harlem of the South.”

Big name artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole would perform on Miami Beach, but because of segregation they stayed in Overtown hotels. At night, visiting celebrities would go to the local nightclubs, performing and jamming with locals.

Florida Sees A Record Number of Tourists In 2014

Feb 16, 2015
http://www.palmbeachculture.com/

  Florida attracted a record number of tourists in 2014, inching closer to an annual goal sought by Gov. Rick Scott.

An estimated 97.3 million visitors came to Florida in 2014, a 3.9 percent increase from the year before, according to information released Monday by Visit Florida, the state's tourism-marketing arm.

Scott, who has asked lawmakers to increase tourism-marketing funding from $74 million in the current fiscal year to $85 million during the budget year that begins July 1, has been pushing for Florida to surpass 100 million visitors a year.

Illustration by Wilson Sayre

Early in the morning on September 8, 1993, Uwe Rakebrand and his wife, Kathrin, are driving from the Miami airport to a hotel on Miami Beach in their rented red Toyota Corolla. They have just arrived from Germany on a belated honeymoon.

As they approach I-95, the couple's car is bumped from behind. Kathrin had just read a crime brochure explaining what to do in this very type of situation, and Uwe follows its advice: Don’t pull over, it might be a robber.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

  Commuters in Boston’s South Station, coping with temperatures in the 20s and light snow, on Thursday got a taste of the Florida Keys. 

The Monroe County Tourist Development Council this week took over the station with ads and promotions for the Florida Keys. On Thursday, they provided samples of the islands’ signature dessert: Key lime pie.

And not just any Key lime pie. This is billed as “the world’s largest Key lime pie.” It’s 9 feet in diameter.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The islands west of Key West have been designated as a national wildlife refuge since 1908, when Teddy Roosevelt created the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. The intent was to protect birds from plume-hunters who were killing them for feathers to adorn ladies' hats.

Peetje2 / Creative Commons/Flickr

As soon as same-sex marriage became legal in Florida, the Keys tourism council was on LGBT websites and blogs advertising the islands as a wedding destination.

“The Florida Keys has long been a popular destination for weddings and honeymoons,” said Harold Wheeler, director of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. He’s hoping the same will apply for same-sex couples.

Florida Keys Adding New Hotel Rooms

Dec 19, 2014
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.

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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