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Lee County tourism numbers up despite water quality issues

Posted at 10:48 PM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-01 22:48:31-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Tourism is crucial to Florida’s economy, it’s the number one industry in the state. And in Lee County, one in five people are employed by tourism related jobs.

Right before season started Southwest Florida had a summer and fall of red tide and blue-green algae and for an industry that depends on visitors, “We were a little nervous going into the season,” said Neil Curiel, Marketing Manager, Florida Repertory Theatre.

But Florida Repertory Theatre had record breaking numbers, “Million Dollar Quartet, which was our record breaking show saw 1,400 patrons come through the door,” said Curiel.

More than 58 thousand jobs, which is 21 percent of Lee County’s employment are due to tourism.

“We really need our numbers to be strong to stay open all year and we do stay open all year, but we really count on the January to April season,” said Gina Taylor, Historic Tours.

Lee County had a total of 1.37 million visitors during the 2018 winter, that’s up 3.3 percent from 2017.

“It's a celebration in February we had a record breaking visitation,” said Pamela Johnson, Deputy Director, Lee County Visitors Convention and Bureau.

Hotels, restaurants, attractions all celebrated Wednesday night as Lee County Visitors Convention and Bureau hosted its annual travel rally.

“I think one of the key components to the travel industry in Southwest Florida is the partnerships that we make with each other and how we support each other,” said Curiel.

This event kicks off National Travel & Tourism Week which runs May 5-11th.