It appears Lee County tourism has fully recovered from COVID. Tourism revenue hit a new record in Lee County in 2021, raking in more than $53.3 million in bed taxes for the fiscal year, which ended in September.
During fiscal year 2020 in the peak of the pandemic, $39.6 million was collected in bed taxes, closely matching the total from fiscal year 2015. The 5% tourist tax, which is applied to all hotel stays and rentals of six months or less, surpassed the previous record of $42.6 million in fiscal year 2019.
“Tourism is a huge driver of our economy, funding one out of every five jobs in Lee County,” said Linda Doggett, Lee County Clerk of the Court and Comptroller. “The best part of the bed tax is that all Lee County residents benefit from it, but it doesn’t cost us a penny.”
The tourist tax is collected and distributed by the Clerk of Court and helps fund destination marketing, local sports facilities, and maintenance of 50 miles of beach and shoreline. The monies also go toward funding local non-profit organizations at more than 40 local attractions.
“We’re hopeful that as we continue to recover from the pandemic, our tourism tax collections will continue to grow,” Doggett said. “During October 2021, we collected $2.4 million, a 29% increase from October 2020 and a 65% increase from October 2019, which only brought in $1.46 million.”
Florida is also booming. Visit Florida estimates that the state welcomed a total of 32.5 million travelers in Q3 2021. It was the second consecutive quarter of growth in domestic visitation, with 31.2 million domestic travelers to Florida in Q3, reflecting an increase of nearly 7 percent from 2019. In addition, approximately 1.2 million visitors traveled to Florida from overseas, and 85,000 from Canada between July and September of 2021, representing a 597 percent increase from 2020, and a 16.1 percent increase from Q2 2021.