Lee County tourism leaders were correct in expecting tourist tax revenue to plunge in March with most beachfront hotels knocked out of commission from Hurricane Ian.
After a record-setting March 2022, one year later, revenues dropped by 49.5%, from $11.3 million to an estimated $5.7 million. That estimated gap of about $5.6 million means Lee County will have less money to restore beaches, maintain sports facilities such as Fenway South and Lee County Sports Complex and market tourism.
“I believe from as far south as Bonita Beach to Captiva, we have an estimated $130 million dollars in beach renourishment that’s going to be needed,” said Robert Wells, vice chair of the Lee Tourist Development Council and owner of Cabbage Key and Tarpon Lodge restaurants. “And how much of that we’re going to get back from the federal government or state-level government versus what we’re going to have to fund here locally, obviously there’s a lot to be determined there.”
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