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Chamber’s initiative aims to relay #ParadiseCanWait

By Staff | Apr 14, 2020

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The Sanibel and Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce recently launched a social media campaign aimed at promoting social responsibility, while supporting island businesses, during COVID-19.

On April 6, the chamber announced its new “Paradise Can Wait” initiative. President John Lai explained that the campaign was launched in line with Lee County’s marketing arm of the Visitor & Convention Bureau to promote social responsibly about social distancing and flatten the curve.

“We want people to understand the beaches aren’t going anywhere, and neither should they,” he said, referring to leisure and business visitors planning trips. “Health and safety it a top priority now.”

“Our goal right now is to make sure that they know the islands are going to welcome them back eventually, but right now is not the time to have our beaches packed with visitors,” Lai added.

As part of #ParadiseCanWait, visitors are asked not to outright cancel their plans.

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“We’re asking them to not cancel – to postpone or reschedule,” he said, adding that the idea is to reschedule their trips for a later date when it is safe to travel again. “Please, push them out.”

“We’re going to be here, welcoming you back when we get on the other side of this,” Lai noted, adding that the beaches will be beautiful, the shelling great, and the restaurants and retail open for business.

For those who have not yet booked but are planning to, the chamber asks that they wait for now.

“And if they planned to come in the third or fourth quarter, or even in early 2021, know that we are still here,” he said.

Lai reiterated that the campaign is not just aimed at vacationers and those visiting for leisure, it is also directed at business industries and meeting planners, as well as for weddings and group gatherings.

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“Don’t cancel,” he said. “Reschedule.”

Island businesses can help spread the word about the initiative and the message by sharing on their Website and social media platform eye-catching graphics created and provided by the chamber.

“Share them and use the hashtag #ParadiseCanWait,” Lai said.

“We’ll be releasing more photos with catchphrases,” he added. “So be on the lookout for those.”

Asked about what the next steps are for the campaign, Lai explained that the next significant component will come when the islands are ready to relaunch and reopen – when it is safe.

“There’ll be a ‘Paradise Is Ready’ campaign following this, and multiple videos that will help promote the islands once we’re on the other side of this,” he said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lai noted that the chamber’s role is to push out information and resources to its members.

“There is a lot of the unknown (among island businesses),” he said of what he has encountered. “This is unlike anything we’ve ever faced; there’s no playbook for it. We don’t know when this will end.”

Grocery providers and eateries with existing strong take-out or delivery services are faring best.

“What we’re seeing is the community pulled together in a way that we’ve not seen before,” Lai said, noting that businesses are taking care of businesses and nonprofits, and the community is taking care of them. “They are truly placing health and safety above all. I think that is something unique to Sanibel.”

“But, the unknown is certainly causing anxiety,” he noted.

Lai added that the chamber fully supports the recent decisions of the city and city council.

“We are grateful that they are doing all that they are to make sure that the island is impacted as little as possible, both from a residential standpoint and from a business perspective,” he said.

For more information, visit sanibel-captiva.org.