Thursday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida’s international tourism headed for new post-pandemic high
International travel to Florida is on track to reach a record post-pandemic high in 2023, according to new estimates from the state’s tourism marketing corporation. Through June, the Sunshine State has welcomed 70.8 million visitors this year — an uptick of 1.3% over the first six months of 2022 and 4.5% higher than 2019 pre-pandemic levels. Domestic travelers have accounted for an enormous share of Florida’s guests, constituting 92% of visitors in the second quarter of 2023. However, the overall growth is due to rises in Canadian and overseas visitation, up 81% and 22%, respectively, compared to a 1.1% dip in domestic visits. [Source: Florida Politics]
As insurance costs rise, property owners consider self-insurance
While most of the focus on Florida’s troubles with property insurance has been on homeowners, commercial property owners are dealing with many of the same issues and it’s leading some to consider self-insuring their properties. The practice may be a solution to a complicated and expensive problem. But there is a concern it could lead to trouble down the road, particularly if a storm similar to Hurricane Ian were to strike the state again. [Source: Business Observer]
Column: Building a better Baker Act, one legislative session at a time
The Baker Act allows individuals believed to have a mental illness who are dangerous to oneself or others to be deprived of liberty so that they can be medically assessed and stabilized. It’s a complicated law, and it interacts with many other laws governing schools, nursing homes and hospitals — places where individuals may be found in serious need of help. How the law applies, especially where children are involved, has been a major source of controversy. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Could low oxygen levels be just as threatening to Florida's coral reefs as overheated seas?
Florida's coral reefs have been decimated by record high temperatures, spurring researchers to relocate some species to onshore tanks. But lowered levels of oxygen may be as much of a threat to their existence. WUSF's Steve Newborn talks about this peril with Andrew Altieri. He's an assistant professor in environmental engineering sciences at the University of Florida, and associate director at the university's Center for Coastal Solutions. [Source: WMFE]
Florida officials predict increased student aid costs for taxpayers
Florida officials project that taxpayer-funded student aid will increase in coming years as more students graduate from high school in the Sunshine State. The Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research’s Education Estimating Conference was held on Friday to discuss projections for various scholarship programs for Florida college students in fiscal 2023-24 to fiscal 2028-29. [Source: The Center Square]
The Cade Prize for Innovation is now a national competition. This annual competition – which celebrates early-stage inventions – is the capstone initiative of the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention in Gainesville, Florida. The museum is named after Dr. James Robert Cade, Gatorade’s lead inventor. Who knows what the next Cade Prize winner will invent? On September 28, 2023, the grand prize winner of the 14th Annual Cade Prize for Innovation will be announced. Learn more by visiting cademuseum.org.
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Miami has a ‘chief heat officer.’ Here’s how she helps people cope with this hot summer.
Jane Gilbert has felt the summer days grow hotter and longer in Miami over the years. Fewer children play outside and outdoor gatherings are more rare than they used to be, she said. While Gilbert does her best to plan activities around the hottest parts of the day, there is no avoiding the topic of heat in her everyday life. It is her job, after all.
› Orlando previews autonomous ‘SWAN’ shuttle for downtown’s Creative Village
The curtain rises Wednesday for yet another Beep-powered autonomous shuttle pilot program in Central Florida, this time covering downtown Orlando’s Creative Village. The “SWAN” shuttles — short for “Shuttling with Autonomous Navigation” — will be unveiled Wednesday morning in Luminary Green Park during an event hosted by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, District 5 City Commissioner Regina Hill, LYNX CEO Tiffany Homler Hawkins and Beep CEO Joe Moye.
› Dunedin rallies to rescue popular wine and blues event after cancellation
For 30 years, downtown Dunedin merchants have put on a hugely popular event called Dunedin Wines the Blues. It has brought some renowned blues artists such as Selwyn Birchwood and typically featured a range of wines to try. All of it was held along Main Street in Pioneer Park with free admission. But the last few years it has struggled under its own weight for organizers.
› Florida's first West Nile virus cases of the year crop up in Escambia County
Escambia County is under a mosquito-borne illness alert after two West Nile virus cases were reported in the area starting in July, marking the first cases in Florida this year. West Nile cases in Florida are rare in Florida, but not unheard of. There have been 469 reported cases in the state between 1999 and 2022. Last year ended with only five cases throughout Florida.
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