VISIT FLORIDA, the state's official tourism marketing com-pany, is stepping up its marketing campaign to help dispel fears about the state's hurricane season. The state recently approved a $4.75 million appropriation that will spur the campaign.

A key element of the program is the VISIT FLORIDA Weather Warranty, which will target meeting planners. It is supplemental business insurance that will provide coverage for meetings held from August through October 2005. A Cover Your Event Insurance Policy, free from VISIT FLORIDA, is intended to cover costs related to rebooking a meeting or convention that is displaced due to a named hurricane.

The state is also hoping to get more than 500 meeting planners to visit this spring so they can see for themselves that Florida is open for business.

That's music to the ears of many Florida meeting hotels and resorts, including the newly reopened Sanibel Harbour Resort Spa in Fort Myers. The property closed last August after Hurricane Charley caused considerable damage to the resort.

All 400 guest rooms and public and meeting space have been restored and redesigned and “the well-trained and friendly staff is back,” according to Barry Brown, director of sales and marketing.

South Seas Resort Yacht Harbour on Captiva Island, another resort that bore the brunt of Hurricane Charley, will be fully renovated by Thanksgiving this year, and some accommodations and amenities will be ready in mid-March, according to a news report in the Fort Meyers Newspress. Late last fall, the owners of the property chose to go beyond repairs to a complete upgrade, thus delaying the reopening.

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