By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Now that the Florida Keys have reopened to visitors, Florida City hopes to benefit from the nearly five million travelers that visit the island each year.

When the Keys put up the coronavirus checkpoint and closed down business, Florida City was economically ravaged.

Florida City has always been a big stop for tourists, daytrippers boaters heading east, west, and south.

Florida City is at the cross roads, with the Keys to the south, Everglades National Park to the west, and Biscayne National Park to the east.

Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace says, “When the Keys were shut down that was a significant loss for business in Florida City.”

As the last stop before the Keys, businesses here are geared for tourism, which of course is in sync with how things are going to the south in the tourism-rich island chain.

Mayor Wallace says, “Being the southernmost city in Miami-Dade County, Florida City is the stopping off point for people going to the Keys. Gassing up, getting a bite to eat… And a lot of people day-trip to our local hotels, to the Keys and Everglades.”

Revenues tanked for Florida City when the Keys put up a checkpoint and closed down business.

A significant number of locals work in the Keys in the service industry.

Mayor Wallace says, “They don’t have a place to work. So, in addition to business, many people lost livelihoods when the Keys shutdown.”

The mayor and locals are looking forward to this weekend to get an idea of how quickly tourists and boaters will be returning to the Keys and traveling through Florida City.

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