COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — The Tourist Development Council (TDC) says they saw 173,200 visitors staying in its hotels and other vacation rentals in June, which is up by nearly 50% from 2020.
Numbers collected for the county come from Tampa-based Research Data Services.
Jack Wert, Executive Director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB told Fox 4 Collier County had record tourism in 2019, and the new numbers for June are above that.
The TDC says while they are starting to see a rise in out-of-state travelers, it’s actually our fellow Floridians that are leading the way.
Wert says visitors from other parts of Florida are the main reason they are now seeing these record numbers on their road to recovery.
The TDC says they receive tourism data on a monthly basis- meaning once they started seeing people were ready to travel again, Collier County quickly started to ramp up their efforts to market to other areas in Florida, even telling Fox 4 they marketed as far north as Tampa.
The council says the data shows that people are feeling more comfortable traveling further from home, something they didn’t see this time last year.
Another change they are seeing, Wert, says is they are seeing local businesses once again benefiting from tourism-
“We had many, many layoffs in hospitality and tourism. some of those jobs have come back. We still aren’t where we were before but a lot of those jobs have come back and I think that is good. That brings visitors here that spend that money they saved up by not traveling before in our local businesses,” said Wert.
He says so far, Collier County has seen more than a 90% satisfaction rate from travelers who would return to Collier County
But will that satisfaction rate hold steady?
While Collier County is seeing a record number of people visiting compared to last year during the pandemic, the TDC says businesses still don’t have enough employees returning to work.
The worker shortage is something being seen across the country and the council says there were a lot of lay-offs in 2019.
While some of those jobs are returning, Wert says a lack of employees could potentially mean a less desirable experience for future business.
“It really does bother us..is that going to make a difference in satisfaction numbers for instance? What our research is saying is so far, people are very satisfied. We are still seeing levels of over 90% of the people who have been here and vacationed here, over 90% of them say they are either highly satisfied or satisfied with the experience here,” said Wert.
As health care professionals continue to report a rise in COVID cases, the question now being asked is, what impact could it have on visitors in Collier County.
The mindset once again is to roll with the punches and pivot if they need to.
With news from the Center's for Disease Control and Prevention asking people again to wear masks inside, it’s no surprise Collier County is already preparing once again.
“If that happens, we are ready for that because we went through that a year ago. We adopted the Paradise Pledge, in July of last year (2020), which follows CDC guidelines,” said Wert.
Wert says they are in constant contact with their tourism partners and just like in 2020 the TDC is prepared to once again share a gameplan that puts local businesses and the county on the same page moving forward
"Were seeing from research and I think we will see this again that travelers will expect to see those kinds of guidelines in place when they come here. I think we have the road map and the path to follow, that with what we did a year ago,” said Wert.