Fort Myers Beach gets record visitor numbers despite record COVID-19 numbers



According to the CDC, Florida had 31,758 new COVID-19 cases as of Friday. The new record is fueled by the spread of the new omicron variant, but that hasn’t stopped people from traveling to Southwest Florida for Christmas.

Businesses there say they had a record year. People said they were ready to return to travel and wanted to go somewhere warm for Christmas.

The families WINK News spoke to said they came to see friends and family, which made the decision to spend Christmas away from home a little easier.

2020 has been a record-breaking year for many businesses in Fort Myers Beach.

“This year has really been busier than last year,” said Melissa Schneider, marketing director of Lani Kai.

Sun Deck Inn & Suites owner Daniel Clarkston said, “I think this is the best year Fort Myers Beach has ever seen in terms of hospitality.”

Patrons are returning, but hotels say a lot of first-time visitors are coming, and that’s led to record bookings.

“It’s crazy that it’s not even 2022 yet, and we’ve done quite a bit of pre-booking (through April). We have a day here and there. And we also have some new properties opening,” Clarkston said.

Jeff and Leisha were among the first-time visitors. “This is really my first Christmas away from home,” says Jeff. “It still feels like Christmas here even though we don’t have snow here,” Leisha said.

Their loved ones are also celebrating Christmas in Southwest Florida, making the decision a little easier to make.

Lisa Kramer from Kansas City was also on the boat, visiting family in Southwest Florida. “My son-in-law. It was a dream. He always wanted to do that. And I was like, ‘damn; we are doing it. ”

“Our first Florida Christmas, so we wanted to enjoy warm weather this year,” said Missy Tomkiewicz from Kansas City.

All of that resulted in a record year for many businesses on the island.

“I am so grateful to everyone who chose to come here, visit us, visit our island, visit all these amazing local businesses, and yes, the island has really grown,” says Schneider. strong from there.”

WINK News asked both hotels if they’ve seen an increase in cancellations with the new variant and recent flight numbers.

They said the number of cancellations did not increase. Both said the business boom is likely to continue into 2022, with many of their rooms already booked for next spring.

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Aila Slisco

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