Wednesday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
As Florida theme parks hit capacity and add festivals, a return to normal predicted
Florida’s theme parks appear to be slowly returning to the normal state of long lines, new rides and food festivals meant to entice visitors back. At the height of spring break, Universal Orlando reached its still-limited capacity by midday the last few weeks, and Disney’s parks pass availability calendar is showing one or more of its theme parks “sold out” for almost the entire month of April and May. This leads people who closely watch the parks to predict that the summer of 2021 will be closer to normal. Touring Plans, a website that uses high-tech data to predict crowd sizes at Disney World and other theme parks, predicts a rebound. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Florida Trend Exclusive
Publisher's column: A stronger foundation
One of the things that I am most proud of at Florida Trend is our team’s desire to constantly evolve. We are always looking at ways to engage, interact with and inform you. On that note, I am excited to share that we recently launched a new weekly video newscast called Florida Trend Business Beat. Anchored by Florida Trend digital content specialist Aimée Alexander, the Business Beat delivers a 2-minute roundup of the week’s most important business headlines, including Florida Trend exclusive content. [Source: Florida Trend]
Cuba now open to Cuban American investors, ‘strengthening ties’
Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment is opening the door to Cuban Americans who want to participate in foreign investment projects as the island tries to jump-start its beleaguered economy and encourage Washington to loosen sanctions. Katia Alonso, the ministry’s director of foreign capital investments, told the Miami Herald by email in response to a list of questions that Cuba won’t reject potential business bids from Cuban Americans based on the sole fact that they live in the U.S. — something she said the law has never prohibited, though in the past exile entrepreneurs haven’t always been welcomed either. More from the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times.
Piney Point crisis spurs talk of ‘permanent solution’ to cleaning, closing Florida’s phosphate ponds
Gov. Ron DeSantis pledged to find a “permanent solution to this longstanding issue” by not only closing Piney Point, but in dealing with other gypsum stacks that dot Central Florida’s landscape as a residue of the state’s $85 billion phosphate industry. If closing Piney Point would cost $200 million, doing so for 24 others could cost up to $5 billion. House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, Monday said he will ask the House Pandemics & Public Emergencies Committee to investigate Piney Point and begin discussions about DeSantis’ “permanent solution” for gypsum stack ponds. [Source: The Center Square]
Consumer privacy push in Florida limps forward
Big Data won a key concession from Florida lawmakers Tuesday when it persuaded a legislative committee to defang a proposal advertised by Gov. Ron DeSantis as a call to arms against tech giants' unfettered powers to share and sell consumers' personal information. Intense lobbying from business advocates prompted lawmakers to strip away a provision that would have allowed consumers to sue for the unauthorized collection and sale of their personal data. [Source: AP]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Disney Cruise Line cancels June sailings from Florida, looks to sail Disney Magic with UK residents
Disney Cruise Line canceled more of its Florida-based sailings as well as its normal plans for European sailings this summer, but is planning on sailing from England if it can get approval from the British government. The company announced further cancellations for its Port Canaveral-based ships Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy on Tuesday, which won’t sail until at least July, while also cancelling its planned Disney Magic sailings in Europe through Sept. 18.
› Federal OSHA regulators begin inspection of Tampa lead factory
Regulators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Monday began inspecting Gopher Resource, a Tampa lead smelter where dangerous conditions have plagued the factory for years. The inspection comes a week after two members of Congress wrote to Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and requested an expedited review in response to a Tampa Bay Times investigation that found hundreds of workers had been exposed to extreme amounts of lead and toxic gases.
› March saw highest hotel/motel taxes collected in the Keys since April 2019
The Florida Keys received more money in March from hotel, motel and short-term vacation rental taxes than any month in the last two years, according to Monroe County’s tax collector. The 5% tourist development tax the county receives from hotel and motel transactions is a strong gauge of the health of the Keys’ visitor-supported economy. Additionally, the nearly $6.8 million collected in March is further evidence the island chain has recovered from the battering it took in the beginning and middle of the COVID-19 pandemic amid business shutdowns.
› UF/IFAS blueberry variety debuts
As April begins, we enter the Florida blueberry season. Recently, the University of Florida developed and released another tasty blueberry variety. When Patricio Muñoz developed the newest UF/IFAS variety, he wanted to name the fruit in honor of Alto Straughn, a longtime supporter of UF’s blueberry breeding program. So Muñoz, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of horticultural sciences, called the new cultivar the ‘Sentinel.’
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