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2 October, 2017 04:53:29 PM
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Some Florida Keys Re-Open to Visitors

Independent Online/Travel Pulse
Some Florida Keys Re-Open to Visitors

Three weeks after Hurricane Irma ravaged the Caribbean and Florida, some of the Florida Keys are officially welcoming back visitors.
Officials from Florida’s Monroe County set Sunday, October 1 as the first day visitors can officially return. Last Sunday, however, Key West had a chance to dry-run it's tourism infrastructure when it welcomed back its first cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas.
Not all areas are ready for prime time, but Key West and Key Largo, two of the area’s major visitor hubs, were less affected by Irma than their neighboring keys, which means the bulk of available visitor options are located in those destinations.

Not Without Challenges
While the airport is open for business as are the cruise port and numerous area hotels, the region isn’t without its challenges. Among them, ten public beaches are under a swimming advisory and two remain closed to the public.
“Even in areas where test results have come back good or moderate, out of an abundance of caution it is advised to avoid swimming at public beaches in the Keys at this time due to potential effects on water quality related to Hurricane Irma,” advised Florida’s Monroe County Emergency Management agency.
Additionally, nine State Parks in Monroe County also remain closed, including Bahia Honda State Park Curry Hammock State Park, Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Indian Key Historic State Park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Ligumvitae Key Botanical State Park, Long Key State Park and Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park.
Recovery efforts are also ongoing, especially in the Lower Keys and parts of Marathon which were among the hardest hit by the storm. Motorists are being advised to use “extreme caution” if they choose to navigate these regions. Throughout the Keys there are also debris piles stacking up as they await pickup by cleanup crews.
The scope of the ongoing recovery efforts was demonstrated in a recent Monroe County Facebook post when the agency displayed a video of an appliance graveyard on Islamorada where numerous displaced freezers, washers, dryers and other “white debris” have temporarily been housed.

Return to Normal
Despite the challenges, Monroe County is looking forward to getting back to normal. Tourism is big business in the Florida Keys, where nearly half of the area’s workforce is tourism-related.
“We know we have a long way to go before the Keys fully recover,” said Monroe County Mayor George Neugent. “But because tourism is our top economic engine and many of our residents’ livelihoods depend on it, we also know that we need to begin asking visitors to return.”

To that end, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council (TDC), the official tourism promotion agency for the Florida Keys, launched a $1 million advertising campaign on Friday.

The campaign, entitled “We Are 1,” thematically incorporates the U.S. 1 highway sign of the Florida Keys Overseas Highway that connects the islands to the mainland in south Florida.
“Our concept is that the Keys are resilient and that, as the sun rises in the Florida Keys, so do we,” said Dorn Martell, chief creative officer at Miami-based Tinsley Advertising. “The sun is shining, the fish are biting and there is a rainbow at the end of the hurricane. Hurricane Irma may have knocked out our power, but in the Florida Keys, we’ve never been more connected. Together, we’ve picked up the pieces and we’re getting back to business. We are strong and resilient. We are 1.”

Domestically, the promotion primarily targets markets in the Northeast, including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C., as well as South Florida and Orlando, through television, radio, digital, print, travel trade and national cable buys. Internationally, the agency is focused on the United Kingdom, Germany and Scandinavia.

The campaign is being handled by NewmanPR, which has been the TDC’s public relations firm for 37 years. The TDC said it also continues to target major global travel industry events geared toward tour operators, travel agents and niches such as the LGBT and weddings markets, according to Stacey Mitchell, the TDC’s director. 

DG

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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