The economic down-turn has affected many people; some have lost their job and others have tightened their budget to help during lean times.  Key West has felt the tourist pinch, but hasn’t been hurt as badly as other vacation locations.

Actually, the occupancy rates at most hotels, motels and guest houses are down less than 10% on average.  But with no hurricane evacuations this year (at least not yet), the year is turning out better than last year.

Room rates are also down as owners attempt to fill rooms and compete for the lower number of tourists.  There are some real bargains out there, if you dig deep enough.

Not all is rosy, however.  Sales at retail shops are down.  People are spending less on souvenirs.  And lower priced meals are more popular than the more upscale restaurants.

But this is the off-season.  As we move into October with “Fantasy Fest”, and November with the “World Powerboat Championship Races”, reservations are picking up.  One guest house owner told me she is at 100% occupancy for the entire “Fantasy Fest” duration and already booked at 80% for the boat races in November.

If you listen to CNBC they will tell you the economy is slowly getting better.  I believe a more accurate assessment would be that it’s not getting any worse.  Consumer confidence is starting to improve and those who may have foregone their vacation last year are ready to grt out this year.

Key West is the perfect getaway in my mind.  Easy to get here, affordable options, and plenty to do and see.  Air fare is a lot cheaper when you book in advance.  Make your plans now!