COVID-19 may have wiped out most of our travel plans, but AAA says more and more people are ready to get back to them, and Lee County is preparing for tourism to return to levels Southwest Florida hasn’t seen since before the pandemic.
According to a new AAA survey, 85% of Floridians say they’re comfortable with traveling this summer. AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins says bookings for Memorial Day and the summer months are surging, partly because more people are vaccinated and are less worried about catching COVID-19.
If we break down the data locally, Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass says Lee County is expecting much more tourism for 2022, so it’s focused on improving the area for residents and visitors alike.
“We just look at the numbers for the year to date, compare what we can do,” Pendergrass said. “Also, it’s spend the bed tax money. The bed tax money is being collected by the hoteliers and it’s being used back in the community for everything from dock repairs to buying equipment to keeping the beaches clean, and also restore our beaches’ shorelines, too.”
Pendergrass says the drastic rises in inflation and gas prices mean we will see more staycations and people traveling within the state.
“When you look around, you see numbers are booming here in Lee County and Southwest Florida,” Pendergrass said. “People [have] been coming here, we never closed down, so we kept the tourism coming here and they continue to come because of many reasons: way of life, the weather conditions here.”
“People are just tired of being at home and they’re eager to get out, explore the world and reconnect with their family and friends,” Jenkins said.
On Thursday, the Lee County Tourist Development Council is meeting to review the latest tourism numbers in the area.
WINK News 5-11-22