Collier County beaches continue recovery during peak tourism season

Author: Samantha Roesler, Gulfshore Business
Published: Updated:

It’s spring break in Southwest Florida with tourists and seasonal visitors flocking to Collier County. Although Hurricane Ian ripped through the Gulf Coast six months ago, heavy traffic and long waits at restaurants demonstrate damage from the storm won’t deter those wanting to visit the Paradise Coast.  

There is one part of the community that has yet to catch a break. Collier beaches have been littered with debris since the storm, in addition to experiencing sand loss and a red tide outbreak.   

Even with those obstacles, Collier County tourism director Paul Beirnes said tourism hasn’t been affected as harshly as many residents might have predicted.  

Beirnes and his team recently completed one of four surveys aimed at gauging how potential visitors around the country view the level of readiness of Southwest Florida to welcome back tourists. The survey, which reached more than 500 consumers during an 11-day period in mid-February, showed around 80% of potential visitors believe the region is fully ready to welcome back guests. Those 80% believe the effects of Hurricane Ian on Southwest Florida were minimal. Although locals know that to be untrue, that mindset from those who don’t live in the county shows how resilient the area is and appears to be, Beirnes said.   

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