TAMPA — Edelweiss Air's route connecting Tampa to Zurich continues to be one of Tampa International Airport's big international success stories. It also has been a big success for the airline: That's why Edelweiss announced Monday that it will increase its overseas flights to Tampa from twice a week to three times a week starting in June.
"This is an effect of our success that we have seen on the route since its start," Edelweiss chief commercial officer Alain Chisari said in a prepared statement....
09/26/14 Economic Development
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik wants to create a vibrant urban district in his adopted hometown that will rival any city in the nation.
It will be a place with "a soul and a spirit," said Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke.
That feng shui, though, also comes with a bottom-line business plan.
That's because the Lightning owner's team is still unprofitable.
To reverse that, Team Vinik is trying to bring in major employers like corporate and educational tenants to support his hockey franchise and downtown redevelopment project. It's a plan that now has the backing of billionaire Bill Gates' personal investment fund....
09/25/14 Real Estate
TAMPA — Bill Gates' riches will help fuel Jeff Vinik's vision.
An investment fund controlled by Microsoft's billionaire founder will help finance the Tampa Bay Lightning owner's ambitious plan to build a massive entertainment, office, residential and retail district around the Amalie Arena.
"This has the potential to be a billion-dollar development," said Vinik's top lieutenant, Tod Leiweke, during a 90-minute interview at the arena Thursday....
09/23/14 Real Estate
TAMPA — Someone is looking to buy the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina.
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's development team has talked to City Hall about the idea.
And Mayor Bob Buckhorn believes the prospective buyer and Vinik are one and the same.
"I am ever hopeful, cautiously optimistic and will be extremely pleased if he's able to do this," said Buckhorn, who said he spoke to Vinik's representatives about their desire to buy the Marriott in the last two to three weeks. "I know that they were interested, and they were going to pursue it."...
09/23/14 Bizarre News
TAMPA — The tale told by the Tampa woman who claims she had a third breast implanted onto her chest created an Internet sensation.
Now that story seems to be unraveling. But the woman who calls herself Jasmine Tridevil isn't backing down.
The woman — she's actually Alisha Jasmine Hessler, 21 — said she paid $20,000 to an unidentified plastic surgeon to perform the procedure. She also hired a camera crew to film her so that she can star in her own MTV reality show....
09/18/14 Mass Transit
TAMPA — U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx delivered a message to local business leaders on Thursday: Work together to fulfill the region's transportation ambitions.
"I know that there are some efforts to create a bold transit vision here in the area," Foxx told reporters after the meeting, "and you have to come together as a community to get that done."
But while Foxx stressed the value of a regional approach to transportation challenges, Thursday's meeting lacked regional representation....
TAMPA — Tourism is back in Hillsborough County, and it's bigger than ever.
Hillsborough collected $21.9 million in bed taxes in the first 11 months of fiscal year 2014, according to county tourism agency Visit Tampa Bay. That's already a county record for bed tax collections, and the year isn't over yet.
The previous annual record was $21.8 million, in 2007. But Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada said Thursday his goal is to reach $23.3 million when the last month of the 2014 fiscal year, September, is in the books....
TAMPA — Airport luggage around the country has been targeted for theft by anybody from organized crime rings to security officers themselves.
But Tampa International Airport said two people recently simplified that process: They walked into baggage claim at TIA, grabbed some bags off the carousel and left.
The first stolen suitcase was reported Sunday. TIA officials said the thefts continued through Tuesday and 10 total bags were reported being taken....
CLEARWATER — The Pinellas County Commission all but handed David Downing the county's top tourism job on Tuesday.
A majority of commissioners took turns praising Downing, the county's interim tourism director, during a joint meeting with the Pinellas Tourist Development Council, which advises the commission on tourism.
Commissioners seemed ready to give Downing the top job at Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the agency that markets the Pinellas beaches. But it's not their call....
TAMPA — Evelyn Thomas, 60, spent two decades cleaning up after people as a maid. But the 15 years of it she spent cleaning up after hotel guests were hardest.
"I don't care where you go, being a maid is a hard job at any hotel," she said, "because you have to clean up after people who don't care."
The Marriott hotel chain thinks it has a way to make people care more: encourage them to tip their housekeepers....
Tampa Bay won't be selling the usual sun and sand during its first fall tourism push this year.
Instead, the bay area will sell Picasso, poltergeists, pale ale and Earth, Wind & Fire.
Fall is traditionally the slow season for Tampa Bay tourism. But officials on both sides of the bay want to counter that by attracting visitors using tourism campaigns focused on a strong lineup of concerts, art exhibitions, Halloween events and a movie premiere....
A record July for Pinellas County tourist development tax collections could set the stage for another record year.
Pinellas pulled in $3.18 million in bed tax collections in July. That's up 11 percent from the $2.86 million collected in July 2013. This July was also the best July in county history and the first time Pinellas broke the $3 million mark in that month.
Pinellas also has surpassed the $3 million mark in bed tax collections in the months of April, May and June....
When U.S. Rep David Jolly sailed out of Clearwater on Thursday morning with a boat full of TV cameras, it was to spotlight the potential crisis posed by the red tide bloom floating miles off the Pinellas coast.
But when the congressman returned to shore he faced another crisis: the tourism industry was up in arms because Jolly was publicizing a possible threat that hasn't occurred yet — and might not happen at all....
TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is adept at dodging questions about his plans for redeveloping the Channel District downtown. But on Wednesday he said this much:
When asked how many years it would be before construction starts on his properties around the former Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Lightning owner said this:
"A better question is how many days or months until we announce something," he said. "We are deliberate but we still want to move fast."...
TAMPA — Since the Laser Spine Institute was founded in 2005, it has grown from nine employees to more than 800 workers across the country.
Now the Tampa company is ready to expand again here at home. The company said Wednesday that it plans to build a $56 million headquarters in the West Shore area while adding 100 jobs to its Tampa operation with average annual pay of about $80,000....