Collier County tourism boom met with mixed reactions



Southwest Florida is seeing record numbers of tourism as vacationers arrive to see the beautiful sights, enjoy the weather and escape the strict COVID-19 rules in their home state.

In Collier County, busy beaches and streets have become the norm. Not only during the traditional holiday season but all year round.

“In 2021, there is a paradigm shift,” said Collier County Visitors and Conventions Office Executive Director Paul Biernes. A lot of people are starting to work from home. Distance learning for students offers a number of opportunities and flexibility that were not available before. ”

By 2021, tourists will stay longer, spend more, and some have even become residents, Biernes said.

“We always say it always starts with a visit. So when people talk about people moving down to this area, surely we all know we have a nice area. It starts with a visit, and there’s definitely an appeal that makes people want to stay here,” says Biernes.

Beauty is not the only reason. WINK News asked people in a Facebook group of the Collier County community what convinced them to make the move.

The answers are different. From the lack of COVID-19 restrictions to finding a better education system.

“I have been specifically going to Naples since I was a child. My parents have a second home here, so I’m coming for the holidays and spring break. Summers and things like that, when my work was gone almost three years ago, it made sense to stay here,” said Jessica Hemenway, now at Cornell University. She moved to Collier County about eight months ago.

However, many longtime residents are not satisfied, expressing concern about the constant heavy traffic, difficult beach access and higher rents.

Biernes says the increase in tourism and longer stays is good. He said that the tourism industry is the property of the community.

The 5% bed tax for anyone staying in the hotel goes to the fund that keeps beaches and parks cleaned up and restored.

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