Southwest Florida is arguably one of the best places to visit and live in the United States – but will that trend continue through the new year?
Tourism delivers an outsized economic impact to our area. The industry accounts for $2.6 billion in GDP per year and 20% of the jobs in Lee County, so a strong tourism year is crucial for our region.
Fortunately, the magic and allure of Southwest Florida will likely continue through 2014, resulting in more tourism, more business and more visitors looking to maybe stay a bit longer and relocate to Lee County.
Peak season for Lee County runs from mid-February to the last week of April, when rates and demand are the highest for our area. Surveys suggest that demand for peak season will be strong, which bodes well for the local economies.
Plus, as mentioned by Tamara Pigott, the executive director of the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, the recent budget deal passed in Washington by Congress has pushed back fears of sequestration and the ripple effect it could have on tourists.
Tourism Statistics Reveal Insights into Our Visitors
What, exactly, does tourism look like for Lee County?
In 2012 – the latest annual statistics released by the Lee County VCB – 4.7 million people visited our area. They spent over $2.7 billion while they were here, with most of that being spent in the winter (which was also the period of peak visitation).
Most of our tourists come from the U.S., but not as many as you would think – only 78% are Americans. The rest come from other countries, mainly from Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Over 45% of visitors from the U.S. came from the Midwest; 24% came from the South, 22% came from the Northeast, and 10% came from other parts of Florida.
And what was the top draw to our area? The beaches, of course! An impressive 94% of all visitors surveyed said they enjoyed Lee County’s beaches, and 86% said they were specifically visiting them on their trip.
Tourism – and real estate – in Lee County will likely remain strong in 2014. Here’s to another great year!