|Published:||Jun 24, 2013 6:24 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Jun 25, 2013 5:52 PM EDT|
CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Southwest Florida has been a hot spot for Canadian snowbirds for decades usually for about six months at a time.
Now, lawmakers are discussing a change to the immigration reform bill that would allow them to stay longer!
Itt's specific to Canadians ages 55 and older. It would allow them to stay in the U.S. for up to eight months instead of just six. While a two-month extension might not sound like a long time, county tourism and real estate leaders say the impact would be huge here.
From tourist attractions to the restaurant business to the real estate market.
"It's a win win it really is for everybody," says Hazel Crouch.
Hazel Crouch, owner of 'A Place in the Sun' in Englewood, says a new item tucked in a massive Immigration Reform Bill could allow Canadian visitors to stay here longer and would be a huge boost all around.
Charlotte County's tourism director says more than 3 million Canadians visited Florida last year. About 500,000 own property and Crouch sees that number increasing.
"They may like to buy so that will bolster the real estate market... from the little single wide homes right up to the mansions they're looking at everything," she adds.
"How can we take those months that are slower months and allow them to be productive months," says Kathy Burnam.
Burnam is the Marketing Director for Fishermen's Village and says Charlotte County's season typically runs from November to April and they've been working to extend that. It would have a trickle down effect to local business.
"Close to 500,000 jobs both directly and indirectly for Florida are impacted just by Canadian visitors alone... what that extension would mean, maybe that means more jobs," she says.
Either way, restaurants like the Village Fish Market are happy to hear their Canadian friends could be in town longer.
"We always said that if we could just break even in the summertime we'd be golden so that would help out," says Chris Dinunno.