Tuesday's Afternoon Update
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida tourist count in 2020 falls to lowest number since 2010
The COVID-19 pandemic ended a decade of record-setting tourism numbers in Florida, with the industry seeing a 34% drop in visitors in 2020 compared with the prior year. The state tourism-marketing agency Visit Florida posted preliminary figures from the fourth quarter and for the full year late Monday, showing 86.714 million visitors to the state during 2020. That was the lowest annual total since 2010. Visit Florida President and CEO Dana Young said an estimated 20.625 million travelers in the fourth quarter “exceeded our expectations.” Still, the visitor count for the year might be reduced as figures are refined. More from the News Service of Florida.
The next Hollywood? New bill could attract movies, shows to Florida
A bill that would attract filmmakers to Florida was approved during a Florida Senate committee meeting with lawmakers on Monday. Film advocates say it could bring back thousands of jobs to Florida during the pandemic. If you’re watching more entertainment at home, whether you’re channel surfing or using streaming services, you’re not alone. Executive Director of Film Florida John Lux says the demand is greater than ever. More from WOFL.
While the rest of the country freezes, Florida’s sunny beaches overflow with crowds
As a massive, historic winter storm swept across the U.S. on Monday, unloading dangerous snowfall, freezing rain and piercing wind chills, South Florida’s scorching beaches served as a hot destination for hundreds of tourists and the usual crowd of locals who enjoyed the long holiday weekend by the water, despite the coronavirus pandemic. More from the Miami Herald.
Coalescing coalitions set to clash over Florida COVID-19 business liability bill
Opposition to a proposed bill affording businesses COVID-19 liability shields is coalescing into a formidable coalition while supporters backing the measure are also marshaling a mighty assembly to ensure its passage. Senate Bill 72, filed by Senate Judiciary Chair Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, was set to go before the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee Monday, but the hearing was postponed. It must advance through the panel and the Rules Committee to be eligible for a floor vote when the legislative session begins March 2. More from the Center Square.
New Mayport ships stalled by 'design defect'
Warships whose commissioning is on hold will test a solution to a “class design defect” affecting all the littoral combat ships at Naval Station Mayport, Navy officials have concluded. The Navy decided last month to stop taking delivery of new LCS because of a problem in the ships’ system for merging power from multiple engines to move the vessels at the rapid speeds they’re designed for. More from the Florida Times-Union.
William Dean Chocolates to open second location in Midtown Tampa
Bill Brown is still recovering from his busiest Valentine’s Day yet. The local chocolatier and founder of William Dean Chocolates in Belleair Bluffs said sales for his gourmet chocolates were up 50 percent from last year. The same thing happened over Christmas. “We ran out of chocolate,” he laughed. But Brown can’t take too much time off to relax. He has a lot more than chocolate on his plate right now.
» More from the Tampa Bay Times.
Out of the Box
Tyndall Air Force Base deploying robotic security on base
Tyndall Air Force Base is deploying four-legged robots around the base’s perimeter as a security measure. The robots will be the first of their kind to operate at any Department of Defense installation. Designed and manufactured by Pennsylvania-based Ghost Robotics, the robots, which faintly resemble canines, cost between $100,000 and $250,000 each, weigh 100 pounds and can be programmed to operate autonomously around the base.
» Read more from Florida Trend.
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