tourism

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.

After The Party's Over, Fantasy Fest Concerns Continue

Nov 12, 2014
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.

Is Key West's Fantasy Fest Too Raunchy?

Oct 22, 2014
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.

See How Tourism Changed The Florida Keys

Aug 7, 2014
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.

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.

Tom Hudson / WLRN

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

Homestead Launches Free National Parks Trolley

Jan 6, 2014
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.

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.

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.

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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