County Reports March Tourism Record | News, Sports, Jobs – FORT MYERS

Record bed taxes for hotel stays, as well as record air passenger numbers were reported in Lee County in March. Fort Myers Beach has been named the number one destination for those staying in hotels or vacation rentals in Lee County according to the Lee County Visitors and Convention Bureau. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

With a bed tax revenue record in March and another air passenger record in April, Lee County has had one of its busiest tourist seasons.

Lee County Visitors and Convention Bureau Executive Director Tamara Pigott said the county took in $10.97 million in bed tax revenue in March, a 28.8% increase from to the previous year.

“Obviously the biggest bed tax collection month in the history of this organization,” Pigot said.

“When I started with the office in 2000, our collection (of the fiscal year) was $10.1 million. In one month, we raised more. I will add that it was a collection of three percent, but it was a year,” Pigot said.

Southwest Florida International Airport saw 1.5 million passengers in March, beating the previous record set in March 2019 by about 32,000.

A group of friends and family play volleyball at Crescent Beach Family Park on the beach in Fort Myers. File photo by Nathan Mayberg

The average daily rate in Lee County for hotel rooms has increased significantly. The average daily rate in March of $314.59 was 38% higher than a year earlier. The occupancy rate increased by 6% to reach 85%. The average daily rate for vacation rentals was $362, up 11%. The occupancy rate for vacation rentals in the department was 92% in March. The average daily room rate for the months of January through March was $235.29, an increase of 29.8%.

“It’s our best season ever” Bill Waichulis, manager of Pink Shell Beach Resort, said. “It’s a pent-up request. A lot of people we see are from the Midwest. They haven’t been on vacation for over two years. he said.

Lani Kai Island Resort’s marketing manager, Melissa Schneider, said there has been a large influx of visitors this season. “Business remained busy and steady through the winter and spring,” says Schneider. The hotel sees its regular customers “as well as many new guests who have just started staying with us and visiting the island over the past year or so,” she says.

According to the January-March Visitor Survey conducted by the Lee County Bureau of Visitors and Conventions, 29% of visitors stayed in Fort Myers Beach, making it the county’s top destination. Sanibel was the second most visited, with 22% staying there. Nearly half of respondents were concerned about traffic in the Fort Myers area.

“Our open beaches and natural attributes make it a popular vacation destination,” Pigot said. “After two difficult years, tourism in Lee County is rebounding. We await a full report, but estimate there were 1.1 million visitors in the first quarter, and local hoteliers are reporting growth in occupancy and revenue.

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