MIAMI-Gov. Jeb Bush has turned down a $1.3-million advertising and blitz proposal by Visit Florida, the state’s tourism agency, on grounds such a promotion could exaggerate the actual damage situation and decrease promotional funds that may have to be used if other hurricanes strike the state this year.

Instead, Visit Florida will spend $119,000 out of a $2-billion emergency marketing fund. About $84,000 will initially go for half-page ads in USA Today. A limited television campaign could follow in the September-October period, according to South Florida tourism and hospitality industry representatives who attended a teleconference between Bush and Visit Florida officials.

The agency initially proposed a two-part promotional thrust–a $338,000 print and television advertising campaign followed by an additional $583,000 for print and electronic advertising in major domestic markets and $380,000 in international markets. But Bush vetoed the move, arguing the state’s $50-billion tourism industry needs more time to recover from Hurricane Charley before heavy promotional spending is set up.

Gulf Coast hotel properties suffered the heaviest damage during the Friday the 13th hurricane, west coast Florida hospitality industry consultants tell Ten hotels on Fort Myers Beach are closed. Repairs to them are expected to take at least a week. The historic Colliers Inn on remote Useppa Island–where Teddy Roosevelt once slept–is so damaged it may have to be demolished, brokers who toured the area by air tell

Also at Useppa Island and Captiva Island, Boykin Lodging Co. of Cleveland closed several hotel properties for repairs. The company’s Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa on Estero Island was evacuated before Hurricane Charley hit. The hotel remains closed until public access to the barrier island is restored, according to Boykin officials.

The company’s Best Western Fort Myers Island Gateway Hotel and its Radisson Suite Beach Resort on Marco Island were evacuated prior to the storm. Both hotels suffered minor damage and have reopened. Also cleared of debris after suffering small damage were the White Sand Villas, Sanibel View Villas and Beach Villas buildings.

Mike Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, inspected the damage Tuesday at Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte, among the hardest-hit areas in the state. About $2 million in aid payments have already been issued to storm victims. The agency received 23,500 applications seeking relief.

Twenty-five of Florida’s 67 counties have been designated federal disaster areas. An estimated 19 people have died during the storm, according to federal officials. Charley killed four people in Cuba and one in Jamaica before striking Florida.

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