Record number of tourists coming to Florida, even as international visitors decline
More visitors are coming to the sunshine state, according to new figures released by the state. But the state is losing ground on tourists from out of the country. Florida announced that 35.7 million visitors came to Florida in the first quarter – a new record. The state saw a 2.6 percent drop in international tourists. That drop, though, was far overshadowed by a 6.8 percent increase in domestic tourists — and a 1.3 percent increase in tourists from Canada. See the announcement here and read more from WMFE, WWSB, and Travel Pulse.
First signs of algae that cause red tide found off Florida’s Gulf Coast
Red tide isn’t likely to ruin anyone’s weekend, but state measurements taken in the last week have found small concentrations of the algae that cause it off Florida’s Gulf Coast. The measurements taken by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission between May 2-9 found the presence of the microscopic red-tide causing phytoplankton, Karenia brevis, in low concentrations in waters in both Sarasota and Charlotte counties. More from the Orlando Sentinel and the Tampa Bay Times.
Florida Trend Exclusive
Florida Icon: Biologist Mike Owen
Biologist Mike Owen on a lesson from his dad: “The biggest thing my dad taught me was to not be afraid of anything in nature. Just be careful and respectful out there. He did not teach fear.” Read about other lessons Owen has picked up throughout his career at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. [Source: Florida Trend]
Florida leaders say Air Force ‘misled’ them as to state’s chances to land Space Command HQ
Florida is no longer in the running to host the newly established U.S. Space Command despite the fact that officials were told otherwise just last week, the state's space economic development agency said. The news comes after Space Florida last Friday said it was leading the charge to secure the Air Force's next combatant command, the U.S. Space Command, in Florida during a state-wide summit in Orlando. Read the announcement from the U.S. Air Force and read more from Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel.
Seminoles say they won’t make $330 million casino payments to Florida
The Seminole Tribe of Florida made good on threats this week by telling Gov. Ron DeSantis it is quitting a long-standing revenue-sharing agreement with the state after negotiations on a new gambling deal went nowhere this spring. The tribe had warned it would halt the payments, which totaled nearly $330 million last year, because of controversial designated-player card games offered by many of the state’s pari-mutuel cardrooms. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Times/Herald.
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Gov. Ron DeSantis signs back-to-school, hurricane tax holidays into law [Orlando Sentinel]
Hurricane-tested Floridians and back-to-school shoppers will be able to once again take advantage of sales-tax “holidays” as they prepare for the upcoming storm season and the new school year. Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday signed a tax package (HB 7123) that features the disaster-preparedness and school tax holidays, as well as relief for business owners who rent commercial space and storm-affected farmers.
› Counter-drone technology to be commercialized by Embry-Riddle and Drone Defense Systems LLC [Florida Trend]
New technology that detects and commandeers unauthorized drones, guiding them to land safely, will be commercialized under a licensing agreement between Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Drone Defense Systems LLC of Daytona Beach, Fla. The technology, developed by Embry-Riddle faculty member Dr. Houbing Song, suggests a safe, affordable way to neutralize rogue drones – without having to shoot them down or force them to crash-land – even in civilian settings.
› Retail meltdown? Not in Boca, where shopping centers are bursting with tenants [Palm Beach Post]
Toys R Us, hhgregg and Sports Authority are gone. Orchard Supply Hardware came and went. Kmart, Office Depot and Winn-Dixie are closing stores. And yet Boca Raton’s retail real estate remain remarkably robust. Commercial real estate investor Joshua Ladle examined 79 shopping centers in Boca and west Boca and found most are full.
› City Hall considers program to attract grocery stores to Northwest Jacksonville [Florida Times-Union]
City Hall is hoping a new grant will attract grocery stores to Northwest Jacksonville, where nearly one out of three residents lives in a food desert. The grants are part of a proposed pilot program designed to increase access to fresh and nutritional food in the 15 food deserts in Northwest Jacksonville.
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› Midtown Tampa's construction goes vertical [Tampa Bay Times]
After decades as what its owner describes as a "lost land" between downtown Tampa and West Shore, Midtown Tampa is ready to see a construction blitz intended to create a sense of identity for an area from Interstate 275 south to W Kennedy Boulevard.
› Sarasota auctioneer sells Chinese bowl for $1.15 million [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Nobody will be eating Froot Loops out of this bowl. What must be one of history’s best-selling antique bowls fetched over $1 million dollars during an international auction staged recently in Sarasota. In a lengthy bidding war on the internet and phone, an anonymous Asian bidder living in Italy snagged this centuries-old bowl for a “hammer price” of $1.15 million, hammer price being auction lingo for the winning bid but not counting the premium, in this case 18%. Grand total: $1,357,000.
› Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance moves up date, creates March Motorsports Madness [Florida Times-Union]
The 25th Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will be held a week early in 2020, kicking off a month of motoring migration for fans of automotive activities, and even golf, in Florida. The region’s iconic classic car event moves from the second weekend in March to the first (March 5-8) next year. That means it won’t interfere with The Players Championship, set for March 10 through 15 at TPC Sawgrass.
› Florida’s prison guards may double as immigration officers [Tampa Bay Times]
The head of Florida’s prison system last month told a top federal immigration official he would like to launch a pilot program that would deputize state correctional officers as immigration agents in an effort to “identify and process criminal aliens.”