FLORIDA KEYS — The Monroe County Tourist Development Council, the Florida Keys’ official tourism promotion agency, is to launch a $1 million advertising campaign Sunday to promote the return of visitors to the Florida Keys & Key West, which were impacted by Hurricane Irma Sept. 10.
The 125-mile-long island chain is to reopen to visitors Sunday, Oct. 1, and the first post-storm cruise ship called at Key West Sept. 24.
The advertising campaign — promoting the theme “We Are 1,” referring to U.S. Highway 1, the famed Florida Keys Overseas Highway that runs throughout the Keys — is being supplemented by targeted sales and public relations efforts to protect the destination’s upcoming winter tourism season.
The tourism industry employs approximately half of the Keys’ workforce.
The new ad campaign includes spot television, radio, digital, print, travel trade and national cable buys, and targets the domestic Northeast markets of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C., as well as South Florida and Orlando.
“International news, travel and lifestyle consumers are targeted in the United Kingdom, Germany and Scandinavia,” said Dorn Martell, chief creative officer at Miami-based Tinsley Advertising, the TDC’s longtime ad agency that is launching the campaign.
“Our concept is that the Keys are resilient and that, as the sun rises in the Florida Keys, so do we,” Martell said. “The sun is shining, the fish are biting and there is a rainbow at the end of the hurricane.”
A television spot states: “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.”
The spot incorporates a U.S. 1 highway sign, referencing the federal designation for the Florida Keys Overseas Highway that connects the island chain to the south Florida mainland.
NewmanPR, which is concluding its 37th year as the TDC’s public relations firm, is disseminating accurate and balanced information about the status of Keys districts. The messaging includes points that Key Largo and Key West were less impacted by the storm than regions in between. Other more-impacted tourism-related businesses in the Middle and Lower Keys will take longer to rebound fully for visitors, but some hotels and businesses on the bayside or gulfside in those areas are open.
Sales efforts will continue targeting top global travel industry events geared toward tour operators, travel agents and niches such as the LGBT and weddings markets, said Stacey Mitchell, the TDC’s director.
On Wednesday Sept. 27, the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approved $1 million for TDC marketing and a separate $1 million allocation for capital projects to improve tourism-related facilities impacted by Irma.
The Monroe County Tourist Development Council is funded by a resort tax paid by visitors staying in Florida Keys lodging facilities.