Tourists returning could give the economy the boost it needs

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Rudy Bianchi is like many of the visitors from up north who come and shop at our stores  and eat at our restaurants.

But popular spots like Fifth Avenue have seen crowds dwindle.

“It’s dead here and a lot of places here for rent,” said Bianchi who lives in Toronto.

Tourism decreasing, as many things have, is caused by the pandemic.

“Tourism completely impacts my restaurants. It really doesn’t matter what time of the year it is ,” said Vicenzo Betulia, who owns five restaurants, including The French in Naples.

Betulia said they did have to furlough some people.

“We had to furlough when the government shut us down but I’m super happy to say that we supported them from the time we were closed,” Betulia added.

But Jack Wertz, Collier County’s Director of Tourism says other businesses and hotels weren’t as lucky.

“‘Very few people traveling so a lot of restaurants laid their staff off some of them closed,” Wertz said.

Lawmakers are predicting a $2.7 billion shortfall in next year’s budget. School and healthcare budgets will take a hit as well. So getting tourists back will be a critical driver to the economy.

“Between May and October every year that’s the real time when Europeans, the Brits, people from Latin America that’s when they really want to travel here,” said Wertz. “We haven’t been seeing a lot of European tourism but this year we haven’t been getting a lot local tourists coming to the coast.”

Hopefully, as more businesses begin to reopen and restrictions continue to ease. “That is bringing people back to the community and in turn businesses are re-hiring some of those people,” Wertz added.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.