Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Ed. Note — Sunburn will be taking the day off tomorrow. Don’t worry, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics will return to your inbox Wednesday morning.
Florida’s economy may be booming in many areas, but it has been and will continue to be a tourism state.
The state’s signature industry grew by two-thirds between 2000 and 2020 — more than any other industry — and its growth went into overdrive in the years since the Great Recession, peaking at 131 million visitors in 2019.
The pandemic stopped tourism’s growth in its tracks, with a mere 79.3 million out-of-staters making the trek last year. A quick recovery is possible; however, the state could drop the ball if it’s not ready for the rebound.
Florida TaxWatch has a game plan.
The nonpartisan watchdog on Monday published a report titled “Beyond the Pandemic: Long-Term Changes and Challenges for Leisure and Hospitality in Florida,” the fifth installment in its COVID-19 Legacy Series.
Estimates in the report suggest the state may reach 129 million total visitors sometime in 2022 and likely 195 million annual visitors by the end of the decade.
The report outlines the Leisure and Hospitality sector’s significant contributions to Florida’s economy before the onset of the pandemic and explains how COVID-19 has exposed lingering vulnerability within the service and tourism industries, while also presenting several considerations and opportunities to help prepare for inevitable disruptions in the future.
“Over the last two decades, unrivaled growth in the Leisure and Hospitality sector has catalyzed Florida’s heavy reliance on service industry jobs and heightened sensitivity to tourism patterns. Therefore, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the nearly 40% decline in out-of-state visitors in 2020, this sector experienced a pronounced decrease in employment, with 532,000 jobs lost in April 2020 alone,” FTW president and CEO Dominic M. Calabro said.
“Fortunately, there has been a steady reclamation of jobs since then — currently, the sector is at 84.8% of its pre-pandemic employment level — but the timeline for recovery is still uncertain.”
The report highlights the likely delay in the return of business travel due to the increasing adoption of remote work. FTW said that reality underscores the importance of expanding workforce training and identifying career pathways to in-demand fields.
Technological innovation and automation could offer another solution, as they were proven means of survival for many businesses disrupted by COVID-19, but the extent to which it continues to create new skill sets for the leisure and hospitality sector will be a constantly evolving consideration.
Moreover, structural changes to the leisure and hospitality sector present an opportunity for long-term economic diversification into emerging or in-demand industries such as health care, information technology, engineering, and e-commerce, which FTW asserts will be imperative for Florida’s economic longevity and resilience in the future.
“Twelve states revise counting of prisoners to address concerns about voting fairness, but not FL” via Laura Cassels of the Florida Phoenix
“Ron DeSantis condemns Facebook whitelisting as ‘affront’ to republic, demands probe” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics
“Privacy protection is in Florida’s DNA” via Chris Sprowls for The Wall Street Journal
“Some COVID-19 patients want ivermectin so badly they’re taking hospitals to court” via Kaleigh Rogers of FiveThirtyEight
“The pandemic hit cities hard. And then there’s Washington, D.C.” via Julie Bykowicz and Paul Overberg of The Wall Street Journal
“The ‘Forever Virus’ won’t go away until kids get vaccinated” via Steven Levy of WIRED
“How Joe Biden could end the debt ceiling — all by himself” via Dylan Matthews of Vox
“The nonsensical loophole in Biden’s vaccine mandate” via Katherine J. Wu of The Atlantic
“‘No backup plan’: Democrats reject grueling debt limit off-ramp” via Caitlin Emma of POLITICO
“The baffling legal standard fueling religious objections to vaccine mandates” via Charles McCrary of The New Republic
“Wall Street scans the lots as used cars prod inflation” via Matt Phillips of The New York Times
“The NBA’s anti-vaxxers are trying to push around the league — and it’s working” via Matt Sullivan of Rolling Stone
“Disney has an Avengers-sized legal problem (maybe bigger than it realizes)” via Eriq Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter
Quote of the Day
“We the people have the right to choose our representatives, whether or not Silicon Valley approves.” — Gov. Ron DeSantis, on Facebook’s so-called “whitelist” of journalists and politicians exempted from platform rules.
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