Orange County tourism taxes decline for first time since initial pandemic fallout
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – For the first time since Orange County’s tourism development tax collection hit rock bottom during the pandemic, Comptroller Phil Diamond said January’s numbers did not increase like the previous months but instead took a downturn. Speaking from the Orange County Convention Center on Monday, Diamond announced the latest tourism development tax, or TDT, dollar intake for January, which is collected from hotel, resort and motel stays. This is the lowest amount the county had collected in tourism tax dollars in any December since 2005, according to the TDT report. “That shows that the business community has confidence and optimism about Orange County, to long term economic outlook,” Diamond said. The funds go toward tourism projects within the county, including the convention center and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Dustin Diamond, Screech on ‘Saved by the Bell,’ dies at 44
“Saved by the Bell” star Dustin Diamond died Monday after a three-week fight with cancer, according to his representative. AdFormer co-star Mario Lopez took to Twitter to say farewell: “Dustin, you will be missed, my man. A sequel was launched on Peacock last fall featuring many from the original cast, including Gosselaar, Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley and Tiffani Thiessen. “God speed, Dustin,” Thiessen wrote on Instagram. “Dustin was a humorous and high-spirited individual whose greatest passion was to make others laugh.
Super Bowl won’t be tourism touchdown for Central Florida
In the past when Tampa hosted Super Bowls, travel experts say thousands of people flocked to Central Florida to extend their vacation, visiting theme parks and resorts. With COVID, I would suspect we’ll only see hundreds of guests that would be here in Central Florida for the Super Bowl,” said President and CEO of Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association Rich Maladecki. Maladecki said COVID has really changed the game plan for the Super Bowl. The county is dipping into its reserves to fully cover expenses like upkeep for the Orange County Convention Center and contracts with Visit Orlando. You can watch the Super Bowl on News 6 on Sunday, February 7th.
Dustin Diamond undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer
Diamond is undergoing chemotherapy treatments after being diagnosed with cancer, according to his representative. Diamond, best known for playing Screech on the hit 90s sitcom, was hospitalized earlier this month in Florida. Last week, his team disclosed he did have cancer. (AP Photo/Dana Ferguson, File)Original “Saved by the Bell” star Dustin Diamond has begun undergoing chemotherapy treatments after being diagnosed with cancer, according to his representative. Diamond, best known for playing Screech on the hit ’90s sitcom, was hospitalized earlier this month in Florida.
Ring with more than 12,000 diamonds sets Guinness World Record
There’s a new Guinness World Record for the largest number of diamonds on a single ring: it’s 12,638. It breaks the previous record by nearly 5,000 diamonds. Harshit Bansal, founder of Renani Jewels in Meerut, India, set the new record with this impressive design on Dec. 21. Guinness World Records says all the diamonds are conflict-free. Two years later, his company completed the ring design.
Orange County comptroller sees signs of hope after September hotel stays bring in $7 million
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County’s comptroller, Phil Diamond, said the tourist development tax dollars from hotel and resort stays around the county continue to go up after the initial plunge this spring due to coronavirus closures. Diamond announced Monday the September numbers further the trend of increasing collections every month since April. He said the county brought in TDT collections totaling more than $7 million for the month of September. [TRENDING: Eta drenches Florida | 2 killed in Orange County crash | Biden names COVID-19 task force]Diamond said that’s a 60% decrease from the same time last year but he added, in looking at the numbers, there are signs of hope. When you compare September, which is just over $7 million, to the more than $5.7 million in TDT dollars in August of 2020, that’s an increase of over 22%.
‘Flawless’ 102-carat diamond sells for $15.7 million
An exceptionally rare 102-carat diamond made auction history Monday. The flawless diamond sold for $15.7 million. [TRENDING: DeSantis to lift restaurant limits in Fla. | Here’s how to track your mail-in ballot | How can I tell difference between flu and COVID-19?] Cut from a rough diamond discovered in Ontario, Canada, in 2018, it achieved top rankings in each of the “four Cs” -- cut, color, clarity and carat weight. It has the highest grading for a white diamond, classified as “D color.”