I send a heartfelt thank-you to everyone who contacted me after Hurricane Irma passed through the Florida Keys. The outpouring of support was truly incredible and is much appreciated.

Key West rainbow crosswalks

The Key West LGBT visitor center’s new home is close to the island’s iconic rainbow crosswalks at Duval and Petronia streets. (Photo by Rob O’Neal, Florida Keys News Bureau)

Those Key West “fan clubbers” all wanted to know when they could come back to visit. I’m delighted to say we’re well on our way to recovery and the Keys will reopen to visitors Oct. 1. And yes, our Fantasy Fest celebration, which takes place Oct. 20-29, is a GO — yippeeee!

Not only are we welcoming visitors back to Key West, but we also have some fabulous news about the Key West Business Guild’s LGBT visitor center. The center will move to new and larger digs in October along with the Guild itself, acclaimed as one of America’s leading gay business associations.

The new location at 808 Duval St. lies within Key West’s famed “Pink Triangle,” which includes a cluster of LGBT bars, entertainment clubs and stores around the 700 and 800 blocks of the iconic Duval. The area is also home to four permanent rainbow crosswalks that the city installed in May 2015.

The Key West Business Guild and its visitor center opened their doors in 1978 to support our LGBT community and promote tourism for our all-welcoming island paradise (which I like to say is a “poster child for diversity”). This isn’t boasting, but the island now welcomes approximately 225,000 LGBT visitors each year. Wow!

The Guild and its visitor center provide an integral service to its business members, LGBT visitors, and their allies. The staff not only provides marketing, special events, and networking services to its nearly 500 member businesses, but also doubles as the LGBT visitor center’s welcome crew.

Key West LGBT events

As well as operating the visitor center, the Guild spearheads a variety of welcoming events each year.

Whether you’re a first-time traveler to Key West or just need a refresher on what’s new on the island, these very knowledgeable people are always eager to assist.

Executive director Matt Hon and his team can help you get your bearings on the island and recommend restaurants, attractions or accommodations that will put the final finishing touches on that perfect subtropical island getaway.

The visitor center also has a huge variety of brochures containing helpful information about attractions and other offerings, and its very own LGBT Key West map of the island.

The center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for walk-ins — or you can always call the Guild at 305-294-4603 or email for any assistance you might desire.

The Guild’s Facebook page is another great way to stay informed about everything that makes Key West so inviting — including the organization’s famous signature events that take place throughout the year.

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