Peak visitor season is wrapping up quickly in Southwest Florida, and most people in the hospitality industry believe it will go down as a strong season.
"Yes I would say strong, with only a few weak spots," said Tamara Pigott, director of the Lee Co. Visitor and Convention Bureau. "Some big hotels are hurting a bit in April, but that is not unusual with Easter coming so late in the year. Most feel we have had more people in the area, and they have been spending money more freely than the past couple of years."
Visitors Chip and DeAnna Buchanan of Ohio agree. "We bought a condo on Bokeelia, so yes we have spent some money!", said Chip. "I saw a lot of ladies out shopping and a lot of traffic. Both are good signs for the local economy," said DeAnna. They are leaving an RV park in Lee County, right after Easter.
The big star of the season may be the international airport. It had the second busiest month on record in March-- with roughly 1-million, 73-thousand passengers going through the airport.
"We are completely excited. It shows the great partners we have in our airlines and this region," said Victoria Moreland, spokeswoman for SW Fl. Intl. Airport. "The airlines increased their flights by 8 percent and they increased their seats by 14 percent, to this airport. That was the biggest increase in seats for any airport in the nation." Moreland interprets that as a clear indication, the airlines have a lot of confidence in this market as a destination.
The visitor bureau in Lee Co. now is focusing on the summer campaign. They will pitch the summer as a time for families to re-connect. They will direct the ad campaign at the Florida drive market.