Unemployment continues to soar across the nation and in the state.

“I heard on the news it’s 12.3% in Florida,” Vice Mayor Mark Rossi’s voice boomed across the banquet room at the Casa Marina. “I have a feeling it’s more like 16.”

Rossi owns an entertainment multiplex situated on the 200 block of Duval. He let the room know he is watching the moves the Tourism Development Council is employing to bring vacationers down to the island.

“The commercials we’re running are they fresh,” the Vice Mayor was quizzical.

The Tourism Development Council’s Harold Wheeler was the guest speaker. There to address business owners such as Rossi. He announced, yes, new commercials are being produced and shown to markets to our north, and new, shorter messages are about to be recorded for the internet.15 second spots aimed at capturing the short-attention span of potential travelers surfing the web.

“I see them all the time,” Wally Szot, a pharmacist from the Annapolis area raved to the Key West Weekly. “Mostly on satellite TV, that’s what I watch. They get the word out about Key West.”

Wheeler says unemployment, as our Vice Mayor pointed out, is still high, and what saved the islands last year was a calm weather season. For 2010, he’s anticipating an even better year, and is sending the message: it’s important to get away from your troubles.

“Key West is a get-a-way place,” Wheeler explains the vision for luring vacationers. “Bring your family, your friends, here.”

He says our idyllic island remains a gem in the state’s tourist-based economy because other destinations, for instance, theme parks, cost hundreds of dollars just for a family to gain entry, and then, once inside, the children are often separated from their parents as they find their release in roller coasters and other wild rides.

“Here,” reiterated Harold, “you can kayak, snorkel, and do activities together as a family. It looks like the upscale market is going to come back and what we need is a storm free cycle.”

Besides touting what’s on the island, Wheeler and his staff will also be enticing the adventure-seeking excursionists to head seven miles off shore, to dive the Vandenberg and follow the wreck trek up the Keys!

  “Culture, fishing, and diving, we have to highlight what we have,” reminded Harold.


The TDC’s Harold Wheeler with Key West Chamber of Commerce President Diane Gibson. Diane and Harold



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