Southwest Florida tourism continues to climb despite COVID-19 cases

Published: September 5, 2021 10:03 AM EDT

Southwest Florida tourism is booming despite the spike in COVID-19 cases that the state has seen recently.

Lee and Collier County have actually had a record-breaking year in tourism.

Brian Hamman, Lee County commissioner and chair of the Tourist Development Council, said most hotels in the area are booked.

“We anticipate our August tourism numbers to be the best August that we have ever had in the history tracking Lee county tourist numbers,” Hamman said. “In fact every month this year has been better than it was even in 2019.”

Hamman said the fiscal year is not over yet, but so far the county has collected more money in tourism taxes this year than they did all of 2019, prior to the pandemic.

Hamman said hotels are starting to get booked for winter and they’re having to hire more to deal with the influx of tourists.

Tourists are flocking to Florida because it’s so easy to travel to without any COVID-19 restrictions.

In July, Southwest Florida International Airport had more than 7,000 flights coming in and out.

That’s a 51% increased compared to July of last year.

Usually, this time of year, the tourism industry starts to slow down but that isn’t likely.

“I think you see the international destinations with a lot of travel restrictions certainly scared a lot of people off, even people who would be open to those restrictions are still a little nervous because they want to go somewhere where they’re just familiar with what’s going to happen,” Hamman said. “They know how things operate here in Florida. They know that things are open here in Florida and they can actually choose to take the precautions that they feel are appropriate while they’re here.”

Last September was record-breaking and Hamman expects that to be the case again this year.