Manatee County to use tourism tax revenue to fuel these projects

Manatee County will use a windfall of tourism tax dollars to pay for major projects to expand the Bradenton Area Convention Center and enhance the Premier Sports Campus.

Tourism has come roaring back in Florida this year, and it could just be the tip of the iceberg as international travel returns. 

Manatee County already has generated $22.78 million in tourism tax revenue as of the end of September.

That is a significant increase over previous years. For instance, between 2017 and 2020, the tax generated between $13.3 million and $15.87 million in revenue per year. 

The upward trend is not slowing down, Manatee County Chief Financial Officer Jan Brewer told county commissioners at a meeting on Tuesday, citing a state estimate released last week projecting that Manatee County could raise up to $26.9 million next year from the tax.

Analysis: Consumer spending remains strong in Sarasota and Manatee, despite COVID-19 pandemic

More: Retailers in Sarasota-Manatee prepare for the holiday shopping season

New hotel to help enhance convention center in Palmetto

The tourist development tax is a 5% levy on all lodging stays of less than six months. The revenue can be used on things like beach maintenance and renourishment, sports stadiums, and promotions. 

There are several projects already in line for funding, and county commissioners on Tuesday will consider using $2 million to design a planned expansion of the Bradenton Area Convention Center and Premier Sports Campus.

The convention center expansion is a part of a grander effort that includes the construction of a new eight-story Sheraton luxury hotel.

The project would add a connected walkway to the hotel, as well as a multipurpose room that could accommodate banquet or theatre-style seating, along with cosmetic improvements. 

The county already has allocated $16.4 million for the convention center as part of its capital improvement plan, said Elliott Falcione, director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Sheraton will feature 252 rooms, a full-service restaurant, 10,000 square feet of meeting space, a rooftop lounge, ballroom space, and outdoor event space with a resort-style pool, splash pad, and tiki bar. Additional retail components could be added to the site as well.

Crews have started foundational construction on the site, with plans to go vertical in December and open by the end of 2023, said Tony DeRusso, a managing director at Improvement Network Development Partners, the hotel developers.

The hotel is projected to generate $17 million in tourism tax over its first 20 years, create about 232 jobs, and generate about $479 million in taxable sales and purchases, officials said. 

The convention center has an economic impact of $6.85 million per year, Falcione said. That number will nearly triple to $20.25 million with the planned expansion and hotel, based on third-party data by research firm Impact Dashboard.

“This thing is going to be used a lot,” Commissioner George Kruse said at a meeting Tuesday. “You put that hotel, food and beverage there, and outdoor entertainment. I think this is going to be a massive game-changer.”

Competing with other sports facilities

Commissioners also will consider the design of the 147-acre Premier Sports Campus at their public meeting on Tuesday.

The campus has become a regional destination for out-of-town sports tournaments, and the enhancements are meant to bolster the facility to maintain an edge over other competitors in the region.

This past year, Premier generated about $50 million for the economy, Falcione said. 

The county allocated $6.4 million in capital improvements for the facility this year, including the addition of 400 parking spaces, a 6,500-square-foot permanent, an air-conditioned tent, a new entrance sign, a new scoreboard, and dressing rooms in the primary stadium.

Other projects could include water taxi and hotel parking

At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners will consider a request to amend the tourism tax ordinance to allocate $2 million for construction design for the Premier Sports Campus and convention center enhancements.

Once the designs are complete, Falcione said a more accurate cost for each project will be presented to the board, most likely in early 2022.

A push to finally bring a water taxi system to Manatee County also is bubbling up through the Tourism Development Council. The water taxi would connect Bradenton to the cities on Anna Maria Island.

Related: Manatee County pushes for water taxi, OKs Mote center, other Anna Maria Island projects

And: Manatee County hopes to address beach parking with proposed Holmes Beach parking garage

Falcione said last year 60% of people staying in downtown Bradenton hotels took day trips to Anna Maria Island and that a water taxi could help alleviate some of the traffic congestion on roadways.

Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge has indicated that he would like to use tourism tax revenue to build a parking garage for beachgoers in Holmes Beach. 

The city of Holmes Beach also is considering a request for funding for pedestrian mobility improvements on Gulf Drive that would connect to the city of Bradenton Beach, which is undertaking the same project within its own city boundaries. 

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Cathay Pacific to boost sustainable fuel use | News

Cathay Pacific is reaffirming its commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by pledging to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for ten per cent of its total fuel consumption by 2030.

The carrier has made pioneering efforts in supporting SAF development for more than a decade.

In 2014, it was the first airline investor in Fulcrum BioEnergy, from which the airline has already committed to purchasing 1.1 million tonnes of SAF over ten years, which will cover around two per cent of its pre-Covid-19 fuel requirements on an annual basis.

Cathay expects to begin taking delivery of SAF produced by Fulcrum and using it on a wider basis for its flights departing the US from 2024 onwards, when Fulcrum can scale up its production.

The airline was also the first to partner with Airbus to use SAF on new aircraft delivery flights from its facility in Toulouse, France.

Since the partnership started in 2016, Cathay Pacific has taken delivery of over 40 brand new aircraft using blended SAF.

Cathay chief executive, Augustus Tang, said: “The use of sustainable aviation fuel is key to decarbonising our operations over the next few decades.

“Cathay Pacific already has a head start in this space with our investment and offtake agreement with Fulcrum BioEnergy.

“Our new commitment to have SAF comprise ten per cent of our total fuel consumption by 2030 is a clear signal of our determination to achieve our net-zero emissions target and to be a leader in the fight against climate change.”

He added: “The ability to achieve this target does not rest with airlines alone.

“We are calling on support from various stakeholder groups to help make it a reality, from policy makers, the energy sector, aircraft and engine manufacturers, and even our customers, who are keen to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Only by joining hands can we meet this ambitious goal together.”

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JetBlue to Buy Sustainable Fuel for New York Operations

JetBlue has reached an agreement with bioenergy developer SG Preston to deliver at least 670 million gallons of blended sustainable aviation fuel for its operations at the three New York-area airports over a 10-year period, the carrier announced.

The agreement, with which JetBlue expects fuel delivery will start in 2023, will convert 30 percent of JetBlue’s fuel purchase across John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports to sustainable fuel, according to the carrier. Should delivery start in 2023, JetBlue would hit nearly 8 percent sustainable aviation fuel usage by the end of that year, “putting us well ahead of pace in reaching our goal of 10 percent SAF usage by 2030,” according to JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes.

Using the fuel will cut about 1.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the 10-year period, according to JetBlue.

SG Preston is developing a facility in the Northeastern United States to develop fuel at a large scale out of waste fats, oils, greases and non-food oilseeds. JetBlue plans to invest more than $1 billion in purchasing fuel over the life of the agreement.

JetBlue previously has announced agreements with World Energy and World Fuel Services for sustainable aviation fuel for flights out of Los Angeles and with Neste for sustainable aviation fuel for flights out of San Francisco.

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Key workers struggling to travel amid fuel crisis

Colin McDonald, an orthopaedic registrar at a district general hospital in the East Midlands, told the BBC that if fuel supply issues continued, and he couldn’t to travel to work, there could be delays to patient surgeries at the start of his shifts, which could then delay his fracture clinics in the afternoon.

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Local car care expert weighs in on tips to conserve fuel

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – Fuel shortages across the East Coast and here in the Commonwealth caused by a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline have left drivers worried about their next fill-up.

“The last 24 hours have been intense around Hampton Roads,” said Holly Dalby, the Public Information Officer for AAA of Tidewater. “We need to remember it’s not a shortage but a distribution problem.”

Instead of panicking, Sharon McElrath, owner of Mr. Transmission in Newport News, says to think about conserving what you have. Her first tip: Don’t speed.

“The engine will burn gas more efficiently if you go the speed limit,” McElrath said. “The faster you go, the more gas you will use.”

Next, she says make sure you are pumped up. Under-inflated tires reduce fuel economy and are also dangerous.

Next, have your O2 sensors checked.

“Your O2 sensors calibrate the amount of fuel that is going to the engine, and they should be changed around every 60,000 to 90,000 miles,” she said.

McElrath says it’s a good idea to have your engine and transmission checked.

“You want to make sure it is shifting correctly at the right times, and that can save one to five miles per gallon,” she said. “Make sure your engine is properly tuned up; make sure all your spark plugs are working; no misfires in your engine, and change your oil on regular basis.”

Another tip: Travel light. Added weight in the car creates drag on the engine and consumes extra gas, so remove unnecessary items from the trunk.

McElrath also said don’t be afraid to run your A/C, especially on the highway.

Related: How to report gas price gouging if you see it

“If you have windows open or sunroof open, that air does not make your car aerodynamic,” she said.

Lastly, avoid idling. It uses a lot of fuel, more than restarting the engine.

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To fuel industry recovery, travelers need a confidence boost, WTTC speakers say: Travel Weekly

CANCUN — Delegates to travel’s first major in-person summit since the pandemic began said Monday they are confident tourism is on the cusp of a dramatic rebound, but only after fear and uncertainty are removed from the travel equation.

“We need a statement from the World Health Organization that traveling is not a greater risk if you play by the rules,” Portugal’s tourism secretary, Rita Marques, told attendees of the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit.

Marquess said that throughout the pandemic there have been “noisy reactions that jeopardized the industry and increased the perception [of] the risk” of travel.

To move forward, she said, the public and private sectors need to communicate more clearly, and assertively, that travel can be done safely.

The summit opened on Sunday to news that the European Union would open to vaccinated travelers this summer, a move applauded by delegates as proof that successful vaccination campaigns in the U.S., the U.K., Israel and other countries are removing some of the fear about opening borders.

But the public and private sectors also need to come together to push for more uniform global rules governing testing, vaccines, quarantines and digital health records so that travelers can book travel without worry, participants said during panel discussions.

“We need to remove fear from the equation, and we need to remove uncertainty,” said Daniel Richards, founder and CEO of Global Rescue. “Those are two related but different things.”

With the vaccine rollouts, he said, the fear of getting sick has been removed for many people. And companies like his can provide insurance and a means to fly people home — but only if governments allow travelers to cross their borders.

“We can’t do it or remove the uncertainty of the travel experience,” he said. “That goes to governments. And if we can get some level of coordination among governments so that when travelers start to book that trip, start talking about it, [they] have a guarantee that they are not going to get stuck in quarantine.”

Spain’s tourism secretary, Fernando Valdes Verelst, called the news from the European Commission about opening to vaccinated travelers “excellent,” and said he hopes more such announcements will follow.

In an interview, he said tourism-reliant countries began pushing for the bloc to open after seeing the U.S., U.K. and Israel moving quickly with vaccines. “We saw a need to put this in place,” he said.

Now, Vales said, it is crucial that they make it work.

“To restore confidence, we really need to be consistent with this decision,” he said. “We cannot fail in this process; we cannot go three steps backwards if it were to turn out people aren’t certified by reliable authorities. You have to have the vaccination proven from a public authority.”

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IAG seeks to boost use of sustainable aviation fuel | News

International Airlines Group (IAG) has become the first European airline group to commit to powering ten per cent of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030.

The group will purchase one million tonnes of sustainable jet fuel per year enabling it to cut its annual emissions by two million tonnes by 2030.

In addition, IAG will become the first airline group worldwide to extend its net zero commitment to its supply chain.

The group will be working with its suppliers to enable them to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 for the products and services they provide to IAG.

Luis Gallego, IAG chief executive, said: “For more than a decade, IAG has led the airline industry’s actions to reduce its carbon footprint.

“It’s clearly challenging to transition to a low carbon business model but, despite the current pandemic, we remain resolute in our climate commitments.

“Government support is critical to meet this target by attracting investment to construct sustainable aviation fuel plants that will deliver enough supply for the airline industry, creating highly valued green jobs and economic growth at global scale.”

With the right policy in place in the next ten years up to 14 plants could be built across the UK, creating 6,500 jobs and saving 3.6 million tonnes of CO2 per annum.

Sustainable jet fuel produces at least 70 per cent less carbon emissions than fossil fuel.

Grant Shapps, transport secretary, said: “Just this week we’ve set the world’s most ambitious climate change target, and IAG’s agenda-setting commitment is clear evidence of the progress we are making.

“These kinds of initiatives, along with our work through the Jet Zero Council, will help us rapidly accelerate towards our net zero targets as we build back better out of the pandemic.”

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Coronavirus latest: Osaka and Tokyo seek state of emergency decrees as variants fuel surges

The Canadian government said on Tuesday its border containment measures were effective, as a travel ban with the US was extended.

Justin Trudeau, prime minister, defended Ottawa’s protection efforts, but warned bans could be imposed on incoming flights from specific countries, such as India.

The ban on nonessential travel between the US and Canada has been extended until at least May 21, as Canadian provinces consider internal travel curbs to halt a Covid-19 surge, including new variants of the disease.

“As cases rise and variants of concern continue to emerge across the country, we will continue to do what it takes — for as long as it takes — to keep Canadians safe,” Bill Blair, Canada’s public safety minister, said on Tuesday.

Canada’s top doctor said that more than 66,000 “variant of concern cases” have been reported across Canada. Most are the B.1.1.7 variant first seen in the UK.

“These represent the tip of the iceberg, as there are many thousands more Covid-19 cases that have screened positive for problematic mutations,” Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, said on Tuesday. 

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,131,773 cases of Covid-19, including 88,327 active cases, and 23,667 deaths reported in the country. 

People queue outside a vaccination centre in Edmonton
People queue outside a vaccination centre in Edmonton © AP

Canada has extended restrictions on travellers flying to the country that require them to be tested for Covid-19 and undergo mandatory hotel quarantine.

In February, the Trudeau government said air passengers landing in Canada would be tested for Covid-19 and then have to undergo a three-day hotel quarantine, at their own expense, while they wait for results. That is in addition to showing a negative coronavirus test before boarding.

Health Canada, a federal agency, said about 1 per cent of air travellers are testing positive while in a quarantine hotel. 

The agency said 117 flights have arrived at Canadian airports in which at least one passenger tested positive, with 20 arriving from the US. Another 24 came from Europe, while 29 originated from Delhi. 

British Columbia is imposing travel restrictions within the province to ensure only essential travel between the province’s five health regions. “We’re in a serious situation,” said John Horgan, the provincial premier.

Separately, Manitoba commercial truck drivers who regularly travel into the US will now be able to get a jab in adjacent North Dakota.

The deal, believed to be the first such cross-border vaccine agreement, could eventually expand to include other essential workers such as health-care providers.

“The US has got a lot of vaccines and Canada’s got less,” Doug Burgum, North Dakota governor, said on Tuesday. “We want to do our part to help those essential workers from Canada who are frequently travelling through our state.”

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Fuel saving tips to cut travel budget | Local Business

As winter’s road conditions begin to fade, many travelers can’t wait to hit the American highways during the spring. You can save money in your travel budget by implementing fuel-saving tips.

Check out these ideas from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence to increase your car’s miles per gallon. 

Most modern vehicles use tire-pressure monitoring sensors to notify drivers if their tire loses the recommended amount of air. Generally, a dashboard warning light that depicts a tire with an exclamation mark in the middle will illuminate. If you notice this issue, it’s imperative to refill the compromised tire to the manufacturer’s specifications and monitor it to find out why it depleted. Often, cold weather can cause the air inside to condense and take up less space, causing a drop in the psi (pounds per square inch.)

The United States Environmental Protection Agency suggests that keeping your tires properly inflated can improve gas mileage by 0.6% and up to 3% in some cases. While the tire’s maximum pressure is typically printed on its sidewall, drivers should reference the sticker on their door jamb to find the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Some drivers add heavy equipment and supplies to their vehicles to help gain traction and increase safety during wintry conditions. These can include snow shovels and extra blankets or clothing. However, the extra weight can significantly decrease a vehicle’s fuel economy. Once the ice and snow threat is over, remove the additional weighted items and emergency equipment. 

Well-maintained engines are designed to operate at their peak performance. As spark plugs, coils and other critical components begin to wear, replacing the vital parts can bring your motor back to life. Consider visiting your local repair shop to get an inspection on your starting and operating system. 

Follow Safe 
Driving Techniques

When traveling, it’s essential to anticipate incoming traffic and plan alternative routes if your main path is obstructed by an accident or highway repair. Avoiding excessive idling and stop-and-go driving can improve your vehicle’s overall fuel economy. 

It would help if you also considered driving with a gentle approach. When you aggressively accelerate after a stop, vehicles require a larger gulp of fuel to meet the driver’s commands. Instead, advance higher speeds slowly and gradually meet speed limits to maximize efficiency.

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Travel Executives Share What Will Fuel a Travel Recovery

Travel Consul has released its third Global Travel Distribution COVID-19 IMPACT Survey, reporting on key findings about the state of the travel industry and its recovery from 1,292 travel executives, including agency owners, independent agents and tour operators across five continents and twenty countries.

Two-thirds of those surveyed agree that immunity passports or e-vaccination certificates for international travel would boost bookings in 2021. Those surveyed in North America were less sure about the impact of these measures, with only fifty-seven percent agreeing. Forty-four percent of all respondents agreed that widespread vaccinations would help the industry’s recovery.


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Travel technology, man with airplane and laptop

Most travelers, when they need to choose whether to cancel or rebook their travel, are now choosing to reschedule their trips for a later date. Fifty-four percent of clients worldwide are postponing, instead of canceling, pointing to an increased hope for the future. North American clients are mostly rebooking for 2022, whereas the largest answer globally was for the third quarter of 2021.

Clients desire safe solo and all-inclusive travel. The interest in solo travel rose by eight percent since October 2020. More people than ever also desire an all-inclusive vacation because of the strict safety measures and on-site COVID-19 tests that many currently offer. The increase in consumer interest rose from sixteen percent in October 2020 to thirty-nine percent in the first quarter of 2021.

When choosing a destination, clients are more concerned about access to quality healthcare than they were prior to the pandemic, as well as the price of that healthcare and the overall health and safety measures the destination takes to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Travel advisors have had to adapt their businesses to the pandemic, strengthening customer service and adjusting their business models to fit unpredictable times. Almost half of the North American advisors surveyed stated that focusing on training was an important part of their businesses this quarter. Creating new products has been less of a focus, but the desire to explore new destinations has grown.

Lastly, travel advisors and clients both have benefited from suppliers’ flexible cancellation and change policies. The policies are helping clients feel more comfortable booking international trips seven to one year in advance, the survey citing a seven percent increase from October.

“We know travel advisors will play a critical role in the recovery of travel and this study provides us with some great insights around what they need from partners to help their business recover,” said Julie Cuesta, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of MMGY Myriad. “The tour operators and advisors have also been able to share some of the critical aspects that will impact consumer’s future travel decisions including the impact of vaccinations, destination health and safety certificates and other critical elements.”

For more information, please visit Travel Consul.

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