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How 'spring break' could impact the Southwest Florida economy

Posted at 6:47 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 18:47:05-05

SOUTHWEST, Fla.  — With a lingering pandemic, colleges and universities across the nation eliminated spring break from their official calendar in an effort to keep people safe during the pandemic.

But could the absence of official spring breakers impact the revenue that area businesses could use?

According to data from Lee County, taxes on short term lodging took a near 90% dip between 2019 and 2020.

But, one expert says there is hope.

Dr. Tom Smythe is a finance professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.

“This spring break is likely to be pretty good in the grand scheme of things,” Smythe tells FOX 4.

He says it won’t look like years prior to the pandemic.

“It’ll hurt to some degree,” he says.

But, Smythe says it shouldn’t have a major impact on our local economy.

“I don’t think it’s going to the type of thing that’s going to make or break a particular company.”

One particular company known for attracting spring breaks is the Lani Kai Island Resort on Fort Myers Beach.

Melissa Schneider is the marketing director for the resort and says many people to stay at the Lani Kai during the next couple of months.

“We’ve been booking ahead even further than usual,” she says.

Schneider says spring break might have officially been canceled at some schools, but many people are anxious to travel.

“We’re finding that they still need that break. They still need to take an escape. ”

She says the resort is also receiving reservations from people across the country, too, as they look to escape winter weather conditions.

Schneider says the Lani Kai has worked to follow C-D-C guidelines, in an effort to welcome guests and to help support the local economy.

“I think amount of people and business that comes down during that time has a direct influence on the business on the island, especially smaller businesses. So spring break has a very big impact on this little island community.”

An impact FOX 4 will follow closely in the months to come.

Smythe also provided tips for struggling businesses:

-Be very cognizant of what your expenses are.
-Look for creative ways to enhance your business model to generate more on the revenue side. Ask yourself "How can I get my products to customers tomorrow that I couldn't get to them yesterday?".
- Cash Conservation. "You don't want to cut expense at the expense of hurting service."