The Florida Keys have reopened to visitors, exactly three weeks after Hurricane Irma impacted the island chain.
Local officials chose 1st October as the official reopening date due to the successful completion of infrastructure repairs and the restoration of utilities. It was important to get visitors back to the islands as soon as possible due to the fact that tourism employs about 50 percent of the Keys workforce in total.
“By welcoming visitors to the destination, it will provide the jobs and the hope that our residents are looking for so they can begin to rebuild their lives,” said Stacey Mitchell, director of marketing for the Florida Keys tourism council.
While Key Largo and Key West were least affected by Irma, recovery efforts are ongoing. in other areas such as the Lower Keys and parts of Marathon that were hardest hit by the storm.
“It’s been a road of recovery and continues to be so, but we’ve made enough progress where the infrastructure is ready to accept visitors,” said Mitchell. “By the visitor coming down, they’re helping in the recovery and being part of that process.”
Key West and Marathon airports are now open as usual and the Port of Key West is hosting cruise ships again. The Florida Keys Overseas Highway is easily drivable throughout the 125-mile island chain.
A number of Keys special events scheduled for mid to late October — including Key West’s Fantasy Fest, Marathon’s Stone Crab Eating Contest and Key Largo’s Humphrey Bogart Film Festival — are to take place as planned.
For the most up to date information please visit Florida Keys & Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com or 800-FLA-KEYS