Winter tourism in Keys gets affected by Hurricane Irma

Published on : Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Hurricane IrmaThe onset of winter marks a busy tourist season in the Keys. This year, however, some businesses in the region are struggling to get enough visitors after Hurricane Irma damaged the island chain in September.

More than three million people stay in Keys annually and more than half of their economy is derived from tourism which brings in an estimated $2.7 billion dollars a year. However, this year, Irma has brought about $300 million loss in sales.

One of the biggest challenges in Islamorada, and many of the other Keys, remains finding a good place to stay. Many of the big resorts are still closed after being battered by Irma.

“We’re down about 28 percent in available hotel rooms. Well you know, if we don’t have hotel rooms, then how can you possibly be up or as busy,” said Andy Newman, communications director of the Florida Keys and Key West Tourism Council.

The lack of hotel rooms in the region is also affecting other businesses, like bars and restaurants. The problem is most severe in Islamorada where nearly 70 percent of the hotel rooms are out of order.
Resorts in the region are preparing to finish repairs in time for the winter season. Some properties, however, will be closed until next fall.

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