Tourism in Southwest Florida took a massive hit when Hurricane Ian made landfall on September 28, as the Category 4 storm devastated the area from Naples to Fort Myers to Port Charlotte to Sarasota.
Now economic recovery efforts are starting to heat up as the region along the Gulf Coast of Florida - famed for its beautiful, tranquil beaches, boating, sea life, and more - looks to make headway for one of the biggest economic drivers. Tourism is huge in SWFL, with "Snowbird Season" beginning later this month - the time of year when vacationers and part-time residents from colder, northern climates flock to the area for months at a time - not to mention spring training for Major League Baseball starting in February followed by spring break.
To that end, there have been several benefits planned to aid the comeback. Record company BMI and iHeartMedia Fort Myers are hosting Songwriters for Southwest Florida on Wednesday, November 2. The event is an Island Hopper Songwriter Fest relief concert benefiting hospitality workers in Lee County. The benefit concert will feature BMI songwriters who have performed at the festival since its inception. The concert will be hosted in Nashville, and will also be available via Livestream.
All proceeds will benefit the Support Fort Myers Hospitality Workers Relief Fund.
For those seeking to support and donate to locals that have been displaced and affected by of Hurricane Ian, you can donate to the Support Fort Myers Hospitality Workers Relief Fund. All donations will be distributed to hospitality workers in Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel & Captiva Islands, Pine Island, Matlacha, Boca Grande and the outer islands, Fort Myers, North Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Alva, Buckingham, and Lehigh Acres.
Tourism in Lee County, including Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Fort Myers, and Fort Myers Beach, had been doing huge numbers over the past three years. Visitors accounted for $42 million in 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, and that rose to $53.3 million in 2021 and to $64 million in the first eight months of this year, according to Fox4 News Fort Myers.
But county tourism officials acknowledged that the final three months of the year will be a virtual whitewash as beaches need to be repaired and hotels need to be repaired or renovated.
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