To the editor:
Like many resorts in Florida, we see a lot of snowbirds. The influx of northerners trying to stay warm means business is booming during the winter months, but the summer season can sometimes be a struggle. Thankfully, Visit Florida's global advertising has given our four properties more business in the summertime. Now, business is more consistent, and we're able to employ 200 employees without seasonal layoffs.
The islands of Sanibel and Captiva reap the benefits of Visit Florida and our local Visitors and Conventions Bureau, too. They're able to compete in a global market by visiting trade shows in Berlin, London and Norway, strengthening the location's brand and driving destination awareness. With our size and marketing budget, there's no way we could participate without participating in a cooperative effort together with other resorts from throughout Florida.
Those calling for a reduction of tourism promotion funding don't understand how vital the economic impact of tourism is to our community. In 2015, visitors spent nearly $3 billion in Lee County. Furthermore, tourists had a revenue impact of $172.4 million to our local government. The amount of visitors directly correlates with our county's ability to fund public projects, which benefit the entire community. The millions of dollars in local government revenue go back into our community, nourishing our beaches, maintaining our shores, and enhancing our quality of life.
It's easy for lawmakers in Tallahassee to dismiss the need for tourism promotion because they don't work in the industry. But what about the livelihoods of the 1.4 million Floridians who do work in the industry? And what about the $108.8 billion in travel-related revenue our industry produced for the state? I urge legislators to think about Florida's future without tourism because that's exactly what will happen if Visit Florida's funding is slashed.
President and CEO of
Sanibel Capitva Beach Resorts