tourism

Rob O'Neal / Florida Keys News Service

  The week between Christmas and New Year's is traditionally the beginning of the busiest part of the tourist season. And despite warm temperatures up north, this year looks like no exception, according to Jodi Weinhofer, president of the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West.

Florida Keys Community College

Florida Keys Community College, the only post-secondary education institution based in the island chain, is adding two new associate's degree programs, in Hospitality and Ecotourism Management and in Culinary Management.

The goal is to prepare students to work in the area's dominant industry: tourism — and take advantage of that industry for internships and expertise.  

Fantasy Springs/flickr

The best selling rap artist once referred to as Mr. 305 is now a paid ambassador for Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing corporation. Rapper Pitbull is working on a music video showcasing the state.

Pitbull’s real name is Armando Christian Pérez. He’s a Miami native; his parents emigrated from Cuba. Now he calls himself Mr. Worldwide – since he’s become an international star. Pitbull’s more than 100 million social media followers make him an attractive partner for Visit Florida.

 

The Miami-based rapper will film his upcoming video for “Sexy Beaches” in Florida.

Lisann Ramos

If you drive on Gratigny Parkway this weekend, try not to get too distracted by the wakeboarders soaring through the air at Amelia Earhart Park.

They may be hard to ignore -- they're the best in the country.

Wakeboarders from all over the U.S. are competing this weekend for the Wakeboard National Championships.

The event is a county effort to offer a greater variety of activities at public parks.

American Black Film Fest Returns To Miami For Good

Aug 12, 2015
Ginny Gutierrez / Courtesy

The American Black Film Fest has announced its return to Miami Beach for its 20th anniversary next year. 

Originally envisioned as a destination event, founder Jeff Friday says the festival may be ready to settle down here.

Friday cited Miami’s “culture, logistics, and accessibility” as fitting the needs of the festival’s community, and as the main reason for his decision to choose the city as a permanent home.

Bob Krist / Florida Keys News Service

  Stretching just over a mile from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, Key West's Duval Street has something for everyone. It's got high-end restaurants and rowdy bars, tasteful boutiques and tacky T-shirt shops. And it's home to some of the island's iconic establishments, like Hemingway hangout Sloppy Joe's and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.

Screen shot / Fulham Football Club

Florida's public-private tourism agency has signed a deal to sponsor a professional soccer club in England's second-highest league.

The Visit Florida logo will appear on Fulham Football Club jerseys. The logo will also be on the three roofs of its London stadium, known as Craven Cottage, which is along the flight path for Heathrow Airport.

Fulham is owned by Shahid Khan, who also owns the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

Since the Monroe County Tax Collector took over enforcement of unlicensed vacation rentals Jan. 1, the agency has collected $52,000 in taxes and resolved hundreds of cases, according to Tax Collector Danise Henriquez.

Graphic by Kenny Malone

Serendipity 3 on Lincoln Road, OTC in Brickell, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza just off the MacArthur Causeway and the 17-year-old Romeo’s Cafe in Coral Gables are among the 20-plus restaurants that have closed in the last few weeks.

One source told the Miami Herald it’s been a “bloodbath” in the Miami-Dade County food-and-beverage scene.

Airbnb

Airbnb is a hugely popular way to find someplace to stay on vacation. More than 25 million guests have used the service, according to the website.

But in the Florida Keys, renting your home for less than a month requires a special license. The city of Key West's Code Compliance Board agenda for this week included 14 cases against unlicensed vacation rentals.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

When it comes to affordable housing, the Florida Keys face a quadruple whammy: low supply, high demand, strict growth limits and a tourism industry that pays low service-sector wages.

That's the conclusion of a new study from the Florida State University Consensus Center. Affordable housing woes are not new to the Keys. But the pressure eased some during the recession, according to Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi.

Bob Krist / Florida Keys News Service

The tourism industry in the Florida Keys is booming with high occupancy and record-high room rates this season. Still, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council this week released a report (see it at the end of this post) on unlicensed vacation rentals and rental scams, calling for a crackdown by local governments.

The Keys have 15,000 licensed lodging units — that includes hotel rooms, campsites and homes with licenses for short-term rentals. In most of the Keys, short-term is defined as less than a month.

Christopher / Flickr/Creative Commons

The Florida Keys like to consider themselves as a place apart from mainland South Florida. But starting this weekend, life on the island chain will be just like Miami-Dade in one way. 

Keys business and tourism leaders fought against 10-digit dialing when it was first proposed for the island chain. They said it would make it harder for visitors and customers to reach them.

The state agreed in 2005 to delay the change for as long as possible. The Keys held out for 10 years, but they’ve finally reached the end of the road for seven-digit dialing.

The tourism business is booming in South Florida.

The Sunshine State could welcome close to 100 million visitors this year.  They come from all over: the Northeast, the Midwest, Latin America, Europe, Russia and, increasingly, Asia. These visitors directly support hundreds of thousands of jobs and pump billions of dollars into the regional economy. 

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