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Ken Lawson Meets With Keys Leaders To Discuss The Importance Of Fully Funding Visit Florida Following Hurricane Irma

February 12, 2018 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

Yesterday, during Florida Keys Day in Tallahassee, VISIT FLORIDA President & CEO Ken Lawson met with leaders and residents from Monroe County to discuss the impact Hurricane Irma had on Florida’s tourism industry and of importance of fully funding VISIT FLORIDA. Ken Lawson, President & CEO of VISIT FLORIDA said, “The Florida Keys is one of our state’s most iconic destinations for visitors all across the world. Tourism impacts Monroe County like no other place in our state, supporting nearly 40,000 jobs. After Hurricane Irma, VISIT FLORIDA worked with our partners in the Keys to ensure they had every marketing tool at their disposal. From Public Relations efforts to Facebook Live videos to working with our international tour operators, we helped get the message out that the Keys were open for business and ready to welcome visitors back. Without full funding, there is no way we would have been able to help the Keys. That is why it is so critical that VISIT FLORIDA is fully funded at $100 million this coming year so that we can continue marketing the Keys and the rest of our state as the number one global destination.”

Rep. Holly Raschein said, “Tourism is our number one industry in the Florida Keys and VISIT FLORIDA gives my constituents a marketing reach they may not be able to achieve on their own. Following Hurricane Irma, VISIT FLORIDA’s efforts showed the world that the Florida Keys were still open for business and helped hundreds small business in my district get back on their feet. It is my hope both chambers will come together and understand funding VISIT FLORIDA is an investment that is beneficial to our state.”

Monroe County suffered significant damage from Hurricane Irma in September. Following the storm, VISIT FLORIDA launched an aggressive, multi-phased, $5 million marketing campaign highlighting the Sunshine State. The campaign, of which the Keys were a major focus, included digital, social, broadcast and traditional components in both domestic and international markets.

Captain Steve Friedman, Owner of A Fishing Guide said, “Hurricane Irma was a tough setback for many businesses in the Keys. Thanks to VISIT FLORIDA’s quick response providing not only recovery support, but also letting the world know the Florida Keys could still offer tourists an unparalleled experience, our losses were drastically minimized. Our state must continue to prioritize tourism funding for VISIT FLORIDA so that they can help small businesses like mine, particularly following crises like Hurricane Irma.”

Chef Bobby Stoky, Owner of Sundowners Restaurant in Islamorada said, “With the help of VISIT FLORIDA’s many resources and contacts in the wake of Hurricane Irma, we were able to get back up and running and get the message out that the Keys were open for business. Thanks to VISIT FLORIDA’s boots-on-the-ground recovery campaign and PR efforts, we were able to welcome visitors back more quickly and get people back to work.”

Dave Gonzales, Curator and Media Director, The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum said, “As an iconic symbol of the Florida Keys, Hurricane Irma could have been devastating to our business. Following the hurricane, it was crucial we let potential visitors know the coast was clear and we were ready to welcome visitors back. With the help of VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing efforts, including their real-time communication and increased exposure through social media, the Ernest Hemingway House was able to welcome back more visitors. This is just one example of why it’s crucial that VISIT FLORIDA has the resources it needs.”

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