MARATHON (CBSMiami) – One year after Hurricane Irma devastated the island chain, tourism is rebounding in the Florida Keys.
Monday marks that one year anniversary that Irma, one of the most powerful storms ever seen in the Atlantic, crossed Cudjo Key and went up the state’s west coast. It left a trail of destruction, tornadoes, and flooding as it slowly moved inland.
Irma cost Florida $1.5 billion in visitor spending and 1.8 million visitors.
One of the hardest hit areas was the Keys. Now one year later, the Florida Keys Tourism Council says more than 90 percent of all resorts, hotels, and motels have re-opened. Of the rest, including two significant properties in Islamorada, almost all are scheduled to return to business before December 25th.
On Monday, the Sunshine Key RV Resort in the Lower Keys, which sustained major damage during Irma, officially re-opened 100 of its 400 sites. The rest should be re-opened by October 1st.
Millions went into repairing and updating the resort. Amenities include a renovated marina, refurbished recreation center, completely new RV site hookups, and infrastructure and stepladder access to an ocean swimming area from a new sunset pier. The property is the largest RV resort in the Keys.
Several new resorts, whose construction has nothing to do with Irma rebuilding, are to open later this year and early in 2019.
Tourism employs 54 percent of the Keys workforce.