NAPLES, Fla. — The beaches of Naples draw more than a million visitors a year, and that means big bucks for the county and its residents.
Collier County’s convention and visitors bureau released its final numbers for 2021 on Wednesday, and they told a record-breaking story.
The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau helped bring a record number of people to town last year, which also meant a record amount of tax revenue to help Collier’s residents.
“The tourism marketing with the county government, the CVB, has done an excellent job targeting and attracting visitors during this time this time,” said Clark Hill, general manager at Hilton Naples
Hill said the hotel has benefitted from the tourism boom, even while the global pandemic goes on.
At a Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday, Paul Beirnes, the new executive director of the county’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, unveiled record-breaking tourism numbers for 2021.
“The spending, length of stay was longer and higher on both them, a complete win on all accounts,” Beirnes said. “Our tax collection has now hit record high, never hit that high in the history.”
Beirnes said the county made more than 35 million dollars from its hotel bed tax last year. That’s money that goes towards beach renourishment, beach facilities, and local museums, among other things.
“(Naples is) a rich destination that has arts, culture, amazing restaurants, incredible beaches and facilities that could never be sustained with the tax base that’s right here in Collier County,” Beirnes said. “We should be celebrating the return and the amount of people that are on our roads."
More than 1.5 million visitors came to Collier County in 2021, an all-time high. That led to more than $2.5 billion in economic impact, another all-time high.
Susan Suarez is CEO of the Naples Holocaust Museum, and she said she is seeing visitors not just during the winter season, but year round.
“Visitors are definitely returning,” Suarez said. “We had a nice summer this last summer with a lot families that are doing road trips and coming to Naples.”
Beirnes said he’s still seeing pent up demand for travel from people who were stuck at home during the pandemic. Because of that, he said he expects another strong year for tourism in 2022.