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Record year for Lee County tourism

Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Southwest Florida International Airport traffic has been picking up, especially after the slow travel year during the pandemic. And with more people coming to this area comes more money being spent.

Lee County recently set a new record for bed tax revenue which shows that more people are coming, staying for a bit, and spending money.

That Thanksgiving rush doesn’t only affect highways. Some people at RSW actually had to park in the grass this Thanksgiving. Greg Schmidt was at the airport. “On the grass next to a tree? Yep, yep,” he said.

Last year during the holiday, airport traffic significantly increased due to the pandemic. Today, the visitors and snowbirds are back in full force. They’ve packed our beaches and hotels for months.

Thane Howell came to SWFL from Kansas City. “We’re from Kansas City, and we came down to Fort Myers for a family vacation,” said Howell. “We stayed at the Pink Shell Resort.”

“Enjoyed the beaches and the swimming pools, rode wave runners, saw some dolphins, and enjoyed the Gulf,” Howell said.

Lee County is reporting record tourism in 2021. The county recorded $53.3 million in bed taxes, which is a record. The previous record was from 2019, when visitors brought in $42.6 million.

Katie Storms says her family was ready to go somewhere. “We were ready to get out,” she said.

Every week families are heading to Lee County to make priceless memories. For some, it’s an annual affair. “Oh yeah, definitely talking about making it an annual thing,” said Howell.

2022 is promising to be even better after the Biden administration lifted most travel restrictions from other countries. Lee County uses the Bed Tax money for advertising, promotions, upkeep of beaches, and maintenance of our two baseball stadiums.