Florida is bouncing back when it comes to international tourism, something Southwest Florida, in particular, relies upon.
And despite Ian pushing the economy back, Southwest Florida is starting to see that fever of demand return.
Collier County tourism director Paul Beirnes told WINK News Naples would get tourists that would typically travel to other destinations in Southwest Florida.
People eating at a Naples restaurant. CREDIT: WINK News
Lewis Salvatore believes music has a way of bringing people together. It’s why he sits in his chair playing his accordion on Fifth Avenue every night.
“First of all, number one, I like to make people smile. Second of all, I’m carrying on the tradition of my people,” Salvatore said.
Salvatore explained he entertains locals and tourists one smile at a time in Southwest Florida.
“You see people on this, on this day and age right now, all over the world. I get people from Germany, Australia, all over the world, all over France. And I also have a song for everybody,” Salvatore said.
Salvatore doesn’t make a salary, but he does make tips. Many of these come from international visitors walking Fifth Avenue’s sidewalks. Beirnes told WINK News there is a pent-up demand for international visitors. And an essential benefit to this is how much it’ll impact the local economy.
“We have actually witnessed some really strong occupancy already, that is exceeding even last year’s numbers,” Beirnes said.
“That’s what I would say, as the old saying goes, because, I mean, they enjoy the nightlife, you know, walking up and down Fifth Avenue, bringing friends, music playing on the street, you know, hey, in this day and age, we need more happiness. Right? Salvatore said.
Beirnes explained Collier County would gladly accept tourists that can no longer go to their favorite places destroyed by the Hurricane, but said once things open again, he encourages people to go back. That way, we can evenly stabilize the economy in Southwest Florida.