The Hurricane Hangover


While we all see how Hurricane Ian destroyed buildings and changed lives forever every day on Fort Myers Beach, the financial damage the storm caused is being felt all over Lee County to this day. The most recent tourism statistics really paint a picture of how Ian continues to hurt the local area

From January 1st to March 31st of this year the Fort Myers area hosted over 736,000 visitors who spent about $967 million while visiting, that’s a 31.4% decrease in spending compared to 2022.

Visitors staying in paid accommodations spent an estimated $698 million (72 percent of the total). Lee County’s lodging industry experienced a year-over-year decrease in average occupancy (-21.2%) and the average daily rate dropped 17.8%, resulting in a 35.3% decrease in revenue per available room. The stats are not broken down by community so there is no way to know how much Fort Myers Beach contributed to the decline.
The impact was also felt in the amount of bed tax money collected. The preliminary resort tax collected for March 2023 was $5.7 million, a 47.8% decrease over March 2022 preliminary collections of $10.97 million. Fiscal year-to-date preliminary tourist tax collections are $22.2 million, a decrease of 44.2% year-over-year.

During March 2023, 1,166,442 passengers traveled through Southwest Florida International Airport, a decrease of 23.0% compared to March 2022. Year-to-date, passenger traffic is down 17.3% from the same period last year.



  1. Unfortunately, as bad as these numbers were, the numbers might be worse if you subtracted those who came because they had non-refundable reservations and/or airfare. Sadly, it’s going to take some time for our tourism industry to recover (as it will take time for the island to recover).

  2. Governor DeSantis is sending clear messages that Florida is NOT a safe and welcoming state. After Florida travel alerts and warnings
    from national organizations, and revenge politics on Florida’s premier travel destination, Walt Disney World
    how can Florida expect a tourism recovery? There are toomany other competing destinations .

        • The population of the US between 2019 and end 2022 during DeSantis term grew 3.2 million. The population of Florida during that period grew 1.2 million. If people don’t like DeSantis so much why are so many people coming here to live? The article is about Lee County and Ian. Check the map. Disney is not in Lee County. Stop trying to politicize the data.

  3. Maybe people are not coming because of your crazy Governor’s new laws, I for one have changed my travel plans this year, not coming down…..why would anyone?

    • Have fun at your new location. We’ll be digging out and repairing our homes that were destroyed for the better part of a year. Your political views are of little concern to any of us right now. If you don’t want to come here because you have some political agenda , then we don’t want to host you. The job remaining for us who make this our home doesn’t need to be politicized by those who don’t live here.

  4. As more and more businesses reopen, I agree that a television campaign would be great, and the state tourism bureau should pay for it. A speed bump that will need to be overcome is the group of full timers that have had nothing but snarky comments long before Ian and continuing, about tourists, snowbirds, and how they are a pain and inconvenience. I’m not talking about those that said “please give us room to clean up and heal and then please come back”. I’m referring to those that consistently harp about the visitors that contribute a lot to the FMB economy. Those folks will always be there, but I was really struck during this recovery by the mean, and unwelcoming comments online. Just one more hurdle to overcome, but FMB strong will get there.

  5. We need an advertising campaign to bring the people back to the island. It needs to be on national tv. How we are recovering, what’s open and to come back.

  6. All the more reason for Lee county to get working on Lynn Hall park. Tear down or rebuild those bathrooms. Start the plans for the pier. It’s what you see coming over the bridge and what those top dollar rooms at Margaritaville will be looking at.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here