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SWFL likely experiencing extended busy season; businesses get needed boost

An extended getaway for seasonal visitors in Southwest Florida means local businesses could continue to get a boost.

Tourism experts say people aren’t packing up to go north just yet, using Southwest Florida as their escape from pandemic shutdowns.

For many, Easter is the end of season, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the case this year. Easter came early this year, and some businesses told us they worried that season would end early as well.

But many people say they’re staying longer.

“There’s no reason not to stay here when you feel alive and happy,” Maria Bouquet said. “Number one reason is because I love the weather here, and two people are staying here longer because where I live back in the Midwest, everything is not opened up yet.

Bouquet, a seasonal resident from Minnesota, plans to stay as long as she can.

“Here in Florida, you feel so healthy and happy,” Bouquet said. “A lot of people are definitely staying longer this year than last year.”

Collier County Conventions & Visitors Bureau notices things are staying busier too.

“It does seem that season will extend a little more, and that’s really good,” said Jack Wert, the executive director of the visitors bureau. “We’ve got ongoing research that really keeps a pulse on exactly what’s going on in the destination.”

Eric Becker, the owner of EJ’s Bayfront Cafe, says they are soaking all the extra business up.

“We are taking it as we can because you never know what’s on the horizon,” Becker said.

While an extended season is what is helping businesses now, the tourism office in Collier County also said vacationers are expected to keep things going as well. The bureau sees hotel occupancy up at 85%.

Becker hopes customers keep walking through the door at the cafe.

“It’s been make or break this past year,” Becker said. “Cut your costs and grind it out, but with this long season, and who knows what summer will bring.”

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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