The COVID Rebound. Full Steam Ahead.

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From January through March of this year the Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel hosted more than 900 thousand visitors who spent an estimated $1 billion while visiting. And while that’s a 7% decrease in spending over 2020 all signs are pointing in a positive direction economically compared to last year.

One of the strongest signs that 2021 is looking strong is bed tax collection. The preliminary resort tax collected for March 2021 was $8.5 million, a 45.7% increase over March 2020 collections of $5.8 million. March was really the first month lockdowns started to go into effect putting a stranglehold on the economy as businesses were forced to close to try to stop the spread of the virus.

Fort Myers Beach restaurants and hotels reported record revenues this season thanks to a Governor who fought hard to keep the economy humming and prevented local governments from penalizing residents who didn’t follow mask mandates or social distancing laws. That helped extend season past Easter which is usually the time most snowbirds head home. Traveling back to a state in lockdown was not a priority when staying close to a beach in an open state was an option. Now the push is to get as many people vaccinated as possible to keep the economic ball rolling.

Visitors staying in paid accommodations spent an estimated $802 million (80 percent of the total). Lee County’s lodging industry experienced a slight year-over-year increase in average occupancy and a decrease in average daily rate, resulting in a decrease in revenue per available room.

Where are the visitors coming from?