FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — As the eagerly awaited busy season approaches, the marinas around Fort Myers Beach are loading up once again in preparation for the upcoming tourist rush.
Standing outside the iconic Salty Sam's Marina, home to the renowned Pirate Cruise, Captain Dave Grobinski, of The Sightseer, shared his enthusiasm,
"It is the best job in the world; I drive around all day looking for dolphins and sunsets," Captain Dave remarked.
Like Captain Dave, many in the tourism industry are eager for a return to the vibrant atmosphere before the challenges brought by Hurricane Ian
"Before the hurricane, we were doing very well. We were filling the boat up. This summer we had a number of days where we were filled up," added Captain Grobinski.
Approximately half of the visitors now, aligning with the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau report. The report showed nearly a billion dollars less in visitor spending in the first half of 2023 compared to the preceding year. However, as the new tourism season unfolds, businesses remain optimistic.
"I'm anticipating a very large season this year. We're already getting phone calls, traffic is coming back, and our ships are filling up," said Faiza Shariff, the manager at the Pirate Store.
These boats are now mostly filled with tourists on vacation to Southwest Florida.
"Dolphin cruise today, and it was 90% vacationers—people from Germany, Ohio, Boston," shared Ryan VanDenabeele, Marketing Director.
But it's not only vacationers; in the past year, businesses that usually cater to tourists have seen a surge of local residents eager to explore their own backyard.
"Most of the people we're getting on the boat are from Lee County, so really it's just a bunch of locals out here," explained Noah Stewart - Owner of Adventures in Paradise.
Whether locals or tourists, these businesses are committed to rebuilding and providing unforgettable experiences, one memory at a time. As Fort Myers Beach readies for an anticipated surge in tourism, the marinas are bustling with activity, preparing to welcome visitors to enjoy the beauty and attractions of this cherished coastal destination.Marinas Buzz with Activity: Fort Myers Beach Gears Up for a Thriving Tourist Season