Hurricane Irma hurt Collier tourism ahead of season, study says

It’s been a roller coaster ride for Collier County businesses nearly five months after Hurricane Irma hit Southwest Florida.

Kevin Dugan, owner of Buzz’s Lighthouse and Inn, on 9140 Gulf Shore Drive in Naples, said he was able to get power back, but received questions from the community.

“We have people asking how it went for us,” Dugan said. “We even receive(d) calls almost daily if we’re open and (if) we withstood the storm.”

Following the storm, water in parts of the county was unsafe to drink.

“The water ban definitely hurt our business and that was probably the worst part for us in the entire storm,” Dugan said.

The number of tourists in Collier County decreased three months in a row, according to research from a Tampa-based company. Visitors decreased by 14 percent in September, 11 percent in October and 3 percent in November.

Room rates at Collier County hotels slightly increased between September and November, according to the study.

Steve Jakes, a tourist visiting from Massachusetts, said while he noticed damage from the hurricane upon his arrival, he remained optimistic.

“It didn’t bother us at all, and if you look around you’ll see a lot of people think the way we did,” Jakes said.

View the research in its entirety below:

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