Record-breaking tourism season on the horizon for SWFL

Author: Adam Wright

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- We’re in the middle of snowbird season here in Southwest Florida, and if this season seems to be a little busier than most, that’s because it is!

Local tourism officials say we’re on our way to having the busiest season since the housing bust and recession seven years ago.

While people up north are dealing with dangerously cold weather, winter in Florida remains warm as usual. The bright, sunny days are a big draw for tourism, and so far this season, people are visiting in record numbers.

“November 2014, we experienced another record-breaking month,” said Pamela Johnson, Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau (VCB).

Parking lots are packed, wait times at restaurants are increasing, and then there’s the traffic.

Recently released numbers from the VCB show that bed taxes collected from local hotels in November of 2014, were up 17 percent compared to 2013. The numbers are proof that more people are vacationing, and there’s no sign of it slowing down.

“We’re off to a really good start this year. January’s up to about 3.5-4 percent over last year, and last year we considered to have a record-breaking year,” said Crowne Plaza manager Jim Larkin.

Officials say besides the weather, the strong economy and increased advertising are drawing more tourists.

Another factor that could be contributing to why so many people are making their way to Southwest Florida is the current gas prices.

“Definitely the lower gas prices have helped, obviously that helps put more money in people’s pockets,” said Johnson.

The outlook for the rest of 2015 also looks promising. Tourism officials say that each year, there are more and more people visiting Southwest Florida from other countries.

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