Visit Florida launching post-Irma ad campaign

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- While Irma's damage remains front page news across much of the nation, Florida is launching a month-long ad campaign to let the world know the Sunshine State is still open for business.

This year, Governor Scott set a goal of attracting 120 million people to the state, but Hurricane Irma shut down the state's beaches.

The state's restaurant and lodging association says the storm put Florida's sunny image as a place for relaxation and recreation at risk.

"The message to folks is that 'Yes, there was devastating damage to parts of our state, but we have the welcome mat back out,'" said Geoff Luebkemann, the vice president of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

The negative press also puts Florida's more than 1.4 million tourism jobs at risk, along with the $67 billion dollar annual revenue stream from the industry.

Visit Florida is rolling out a $5 million ad campaign, utilizing commercials, billboards and social media.

Because the Florida Keys and Southwest Florida are still recovering, they aren't part of this ad campaign. But, Governor Scott has set an October 1 deadline to welcome visitors back tot he Keys.

So far, Visit Florida hasn't calculated the direct economic impact that Irma has had on the state's tourism industry, but some estimates suggest the negative headlines were equal to a $500 million ad campaign.

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