LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Southwest Florida’s peak tourist season is right around the corner and it’s estimated five million people visit lee county every year. Although it can be inconvenient with extra traffic on the roads, tourism drives our local economy.
Tuesday the Lee County Commissioner's approved $12.5 million dollar contract for tourism advertising. The Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau is funded through a 5% tourist tax collected on any short term accommodation rented for six months or less.
For the 2018-19 the bed tax generated $42 million. More than half of that money collected goes to advertising and funding. The contract approved Tuesday is just a piece of that funding.
“We are very careful for the way we spend any tax dollar, it’s important to us, we want to have a high return on our investment, and at the end of the day we do this because it creates local jobs and supports our local economy, we are trying to drive dollars into our community,” said Tamara Pigott, Executive Director, Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau.
Advertising for tourism is a trickle down effect. Many businesses in Southwest Florida depend on visitor revenue.
“It really important to our local economy that we market the area, so that the businesses continue to stay open,” said Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, District 2, Lee County.
The Sea Gypsy Inn on Fort Myers Beach has seen lower numbers since the 2018 red tide bloom, but is hopeful business will bounce back this year.
“When we can rely on that return business, we know that certain year-to-year effects don’t matter as much,” said James May, Manager, The Sea Gypsy Inn.