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Visitors to SWFL remain cautious, but are not afraid to travel

It’s the first summer in 10 years that fewer people will travel nationwide.

AAA says Americans will take a combined total of 700 million trips. That number is down nearly 15% compared to last July through September.

In Collier County, it’s a different story, as a new study says people are not afraid to travel. More people are booking hotels both for the weekdays and weekends.

Collier Tourism says “cautious” is one word used to describe how people feel about traveling right now.

The beach is busy, some say almost as busy as peak season, and that’s keeping some indoors. But to hotels and restaurants, it’s a saving grace.

”We were literally locked in our house for the past three months,” said Donna Abarca who is visiting Marco Island.

Being able to walk on open beaches and dine in at local restaurants are drawing visitors to Collier County.

“It can be New York, it could be Chicago. Typically, we have a big influx of Europeans that we’re not seeing so far,” said Janet Keefe.

But still, this is a busier than normal summer month for Keefe’s boutique and on Marco Island, “it’s very much needed due to the downtime with the store being closed for eight weeks and that but we came back very strong,” she said.

Research from Collier Tourism shows most feel optimistic about their health while visiting the county — nearly 70%. It’s a statistic that’s slightly down around 10% from the middle of May when the cases in Florida grew at a slower rate.

“Compared to New Jersey, it’s night and day. People aren’t wearing masks,” Abarca said.

Her family is being extra cautious during their stay on Marco.

“My dad was having an elective surgery, so we came down to support him and we were nervous about flying so we just decided to pack up the dogs and drove down together,” she said.

To get on a flight or stay at a hotel again, but keeping a safe distance on our shorelines and eating outdoors on their visit.

“For me, a number of cases would have to decrease significantly or a vaccine would have to be available,” Abarca said, but also says she and her family are getting a bit more relaxed.

Collier Tourism’s research shows more people are comfortable staying with friends or family or at a major hotel chain rather than a mom-and-pop spot, but even small area hotels we spoke to say they’re busier than normal.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Briana Harvath
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