COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - The official busy season is well underway in Collier County. The Naples, Marco Island & Everglades Convention & Visitors bureau reports not only is the number of visitors up since this time last year, but spending is up too. Officials say it's a good sign visitors have more confidence in the economy.
From traffic on the roads to full restaurants and hotels, there's no question this season is off to a great start.
Cathy Christopher, Sales & Marketing Director for the Inn on Fifth says, "January got off to a wholloping, roaring start. Right after the new year, the phones were ringing off the hook."
The Inn on Fifth is coming off the best January ever. In fact, they're feeling so good about business, the downtown hotel is expanding across the street building an additional 32 club level suites.
"The traffic in December was way up, our visitors were up close to 20 percent over a year ago," Jack Wert, Executive Director of Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The numbers show tourists who are staying downtown are also spending downtown. "Our reservations for a weekend book out almost a month now which is a great problem to have," says Rick Rinella, managing partner at Truluck's in Naples.
Truluck's in Naples saw a 15-20 percent increase in revenue from this time last year. "The traffic we're seeing on the street, the demand for reservations, our happy hour is really busy. Things are great," says Rinella.
"That's what we've really been waiting to see and I think that is a good indication people are feeling a little more confident in the economy," says Wert.
It's a good sign for local businesses but also Collier County residents. "Just this last year each household saved probably over $650 in taxes they would've had to pay if we didn't have the volume of visitors and the spending they had in our community," says Wert.