At Fort Myers Beach, many people are closely watching how tourism rebounds.
WINK News interviewed CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg shortly before the storm. Greenberg was at the beach to highlight some of the “non-beach” attractions in the Southwest Florida area, like Matlacha and the Six Mile Cypress Slough.
Greenberg returned just a couple of weeks ago to revisit some of those places and ask him about the recovery efforts.
“And as you know, as we drove around Fort Myers, even on this trip, we still saw so many boats that were piled up,” Greenberg said. “And I live on a boat. So my heart goes out to those folks.”
When he returned, Greenberg did what many Florida visitors do: go to the beach.
“And for me, look, when I was there, even standing in front of the pier that was decimated. There are like four people on the beach that day. I mean, people are still coming back,” Greenberg said.
And people, Greenberg says, are the key to Southwest Florida’s recovery.
“You know, part of what makes fort Meyers great is that people still get a chance to talk to each other, there’s still a community there,” Greenberg said. “There’s still a downtown there with people who’ve had restaurants and businesses there for so many years.”
But that was just part of his trip with the tv crew, they went to Island Seafood on Matlacha, and the Six Mile Cypress Slough, among others. These are important parts of our community, which Greenberg said, is the most important thing of all.
“In a tourism-dependent economy, I don’t think you’d have a choice. If you lose the community. If you lose the community, you lose everything,” Greenberg said.
When WINK News asked Greenberg what he hopes to see in five or 10 years, his reply was optimistic.
“We’re gonna see so much come back in such a responsible and caring way that it will make you want to come back here,” Greenberg said.
From the sand to the slough to the sights and sounds of Southwest Florida, a recovery Greenberg says he can already see and coming in our near future.
“I think I don’t have to wait five years. I think in the next 18 to 24 months,” Greenberg said.