Collier County experiencing an unexpected tourism boom

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

For the past few months, the beaches and streets of Collier County have been busy as tourists pour in to take in the sights and sounds of the area.

“The beaches like Wiggins Pass is actually gorgeous,” says Gail Pellett who is visiting from Ohio.

Randy Shoff, who is visiting from Texas, says it is a nice change, “just to get out since we’ve been cooped up for the past year and a half.”

All the tourism is also good news for business owners.

“We have been so busy this summer it’s just been amazing. Overall we’re way up from last year and the last few years actually,” says Heather Neils, the gallery manager for the silver eagle gallery

General Manager of the Inn on 5th Philip McCabe says it was unexpected, “the early part of the summer was the strongest I mean it was really quite extraordinary. We were not expecting that great of a demand for sure. And then the question is how sustaining is it?”

Collier Tourism Director Paul Beirnes says it’s not sustainable, “we certainly celebrate seeing numbers like 170 percent increases and 24 percent increases, those numbers are not sustainable. Competition in the travel industry is going to be absolutely fierce. We just need to double down into some of the incredible assets that we already have just baked into what our brand is here in southwest Florida.”

International travel opens up again on November first, and that is when the Collier tourism director says competition for tourists will really start to gear up. But he says he is confident Collier’s white-sand beaches, open spaces and eco-tourism will attract plenty of people.

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