COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- Canadian tourists are passing up on Florida’s east coast and a record number of them are coming to Collier County, instead. But, WINK News found out, they can’t stay as long as they would like.
“If they’re coming to the U.S., they’re coming to Florida,” said Jack Wert, Executive Director with the Collier County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
Wert says a record 50,000 Canadians visited Collier County in 2014. That’s a 12 percent increase from the year before. Ida Dominelli from Toronto is one of them.
“The weather is nice. We’re in the cold. It’s nice to come down,” said Dominelli. Wert says the county has been advertising more in Canada to attract visitors, and it’s working.
“We have billboards in the Toronto area, in high traffic areas, talking about the difference between what the temperature is up there and in the Naples area,” said Wert.
Realtors say statistically, if people visit Naples three times, they buy property here and that’s exactly what Dominelli did.
“We went throughout Florida we really like Naples and we settled on this area,” said Dominelli.
But, WINK News found out, she and other Canadian snowbirds can’t stay as long as they’d like, because if they’re here for more than 180 days, the I.R.S. could make them pay taxes.
“It’s not nice because we come here, we boost up your economy, so it’s kind of a little bit awkward,” said Dominelli.
Dominelli says it’s such a concern for her, she only visits three or four weeks at a time and she never stays longer than six months a year. It leaves her disappointed that she can’t enjoy her piece of paradise whenever she’d like.
“You have no choice, right?” asked Dominelli.
Wert says he expects more Canadian tourists to visit Collier County next year.