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Iconic Iona business changes approach as it waits for tourism recovery

Posted at 10:38 PM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-23 00:35:50-05

IONA, Fla. — Just off McGregor Boulevard, a windsurfing sail invites people to explore the thrill of watersports. The sail is placed there by Roy Massey who has been captivated by the sport for over four decades.

Massey, the owner of Ace Performer, reminisced about his love for windsurfing, a journey that began on the shores of Fort Myers Beach in 1982, and has continued since.

"It was blowing 50 miles an hour, so I actually went out there and windsurfed in Hurricane Andrew," Massey shared.

However, Hurricane Ian wasn't quite the same. The hurricane flooded both his business and home, leaving behind a thick layer of mud.

"It was a nightmare, three months just trying to get all the mud out," Massey said.

Friends and family rallied to support Massey. Ace Performer was able to reopen its doors, to a drastically changed landscape. The aftermath of Hurricane Ian saw a downturn in tourism, particularly affecting businesses like Massey's that relied heavily on visitors to Sanibel.

"Once all the resorts got destroyed on Sanibel, then I lost all that business, which still hasn't recovered. The resorts, not all of them are up, it's going to be a while," Massey explains.

The Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau reports only 6% of Lee County's visitors are staying on Sanibel. A dramatic fall from 31%, two years prior. This shift has impacted Massey's business, with sales dropping to a third of their previous volume.

"It'll come back, so I just tell everyone to be positive, that's all I am, even though I lost all my rental business," he stated

As Massey looks to the future, he knows he cannot change the direction of the wind, but remains committed to adjusting his sails.