FORT MYERS, Fla. — More people gathered on Fort Myers Beach for Memorial Day. There were much larger crowds on the beach today compared to last year.
People were excited to be out and about as we get to the other side of the pandemic - with more people getting vaccinated.
People traveled from across the state, like Nate Murillo from Hialeah.
“It’s very calm over here. You know, everybody’s very to themselves, very friendly as well. Very good energy,” he said.
Jessica Naples came from Pennsylvania. She said her state has been really cautious when it comes to CCOVID-19. Just visiting Fort Myers Beach made her want to move here, thinking about what she was doing around this time last year.
“I was on lockdown. There really wasn’t much to do. Really couldn’t go out. So, this year, it’s actually nice to not wear masks, because in PA you still have to wear masks. It’s not open until June 28th,” she said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who are vaccinated don’t have to wear masks outside or indoors, but they’re encouraging everyone to wear them when they travel on buses, trains and planes.
The increased traffic on Fort Myers Beach was also good news for local businesses - hotels, restaurants and other shops. Mango-Ritas owner Jason Ingream said more traffic means more money for his business.
“This year’s definitely better than last year. I would say we’re probably up - probably double of what we had last year, because we were still at six feet spacing last year,” he said.
Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy said he’s notice the increase in people on the beach even before the holiday.
“I mean we had a great season down here this year, with the fact that Florida was open. And that’s just continued right on straight through. They tell me that a lot of the lodgings are booked off through next month. All of June,” he said.
According to Lee County’s Visitor and Convention Bureau, occupancy in Fort Myers and Sanibel was up by a little more than half a percent during the first quarter of this year - that’s for hotels, RV parks and vacation rentals. It went from 78.2 percent in 2020 to 78.8 percent in 2021. Mayor Murphy said he’s seen it with his own eyes - more people doing everyday things like going to the grocery store.
“I’ve never seen as many people as were here this season. It was unbelievable the amounts of people that were here,” he said.