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.


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