Florida Keys tourism will be back earlier than expected

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Seven Mile Bridge, Florida Keys
The Florida Keys' Seven Mile Bridge. Photo Credit: Zhukova Valentyna/Shutterstock

The Hurricane Irma-raked Florida Keys has bumped up the destination's reopening date for tourists to Oct. 1 from Oct. 20.

It cited the area's restoration of water and power, completed road repairs, lodging availability and an eagerness.to get people back to work.

Florida Keys officials had previously scheduled the region's Oct. 20 reopening to coincide with the start of Key West's Fantasy Fest.

"We know we have a long way to go before the Keys fully recover," Monroe County Mayor George Neugent said in a statement Monday. "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."

While some hotels are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to house displaced residents, many in Key Largo, Marathon and Key West have reopened, following the area's Sept. 6 evacuation notice.

While hotels such as the Inn at Key West and Marathon's Hawks Cay will remain closed until further notice, Key West's DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Grand Key-Key West, La Concha and Hyatt Residence Club Key West Beach are all slated to reopen between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2. The Hyatt Centric partially reopened on Sept. 22, but its full reopening date has yet to be determined because of storm damage.

The Reach Key West and Casa Marina Key West, which are both part of Hilton's Waldorf Astoria group, will reopen Oct. 13.

Key West International Airport resumed service last Wednesday, and its website has removed a notice that said "only Monroe County residents or those assisting in the Hurricane Irma recovery effort should be traveling to the Keys."

Key Largo's Humphrey Bogart Film Festival and Marathon's Stone Crab Eating Contest, which are scheduled to start Oct. 18 and Oct. 21, respectively, will take place as planned.

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