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Special Edition: COVID-19 Update
June 2020

Road to recovery starts now

We are beginning to see positive signs of early steps toward recovery. It is a welcome sight to see hotels, vacation rentals and restaurants opening, albeit at reduced capacity, and businesses reopening their doors to customers.

It is important to keep in mind that it will be slow going for quite some time. The latest U.S. hotel forecast from STR and Tourism Economics projects a 57.5% decline in revenue per available room (RevPAR) in 2020, then a 48% increase in the metric in 2021.

It will take time for consumer confidence to rise and this will challenge every business in the hospitality industry. Following strict cleaning protocols, wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and keeping lines of communication open with visitors and letting them know what you are doing to keep them safe is of utmost importance.

The VCB continues to provide strategic support through our co-op program, which will roll out differently this year. July-September recovery placements are available for purchase now, and we will approach the coming fiscal year in two waves: October-December 2020 (FYQ1) and January-September 2021 (FYQ2-Q4). Aligning co-op advertising opportunities with our phased recovery strategy empowers us to react quickly to any market changes on behalf of our partners. We hope you’re able to take advantage of some of these programs at a fraction of the cost. Visit the co-op site at

We invite you to participate in our weekly COVID-19 conference calls at 11 a.m. on Fridays. We have also rolled out “COVID-19: Resources for Recovery” a weekly e-newsletter to provide you with current information in these ever-changing times. Subscribe here.

Know that we continue to be in this together and do not hesitate to reach out to the VCB for assistance.

Tamara Pigott Signature

-Tamara Pigott, executive director

Tamara Pigott Headshot
COVID-19 Resources

The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19. The Florida Department of Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is actively working to ensure that the most up-to-date CDC guidance is quickly and accurately disseminated to local partners.

Visit these resources for current COVID-19 information:

$57.5 million - How it adds up

LeeCares applications now being accepted

Lee County Government is investing in Human & Business Services to provide immediate assistance for individuals, families and businesses. Funds are available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act federal stimulus package.

Apply online or call 239-533-CARE

LeeCares FAQ

Hospitality association offers 10 free memberships

A big thank you to all Lee County hospitality employees for all you do. The Florida Hospitality Industry Association (FHIA) has generously offered to give away 10 complimentary memberships. The membership entitles you to many discounts at Florida attractions, hotels and restaurants.

FHIA is a membership organization providing exclusive benefits to people employed in the Florida hospitality and tourism industry. Visit

Please email Simone Behr at to get your complimentary membership. These will be given to the first 10 requests.

Hospitality bootcamp

Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association is proud to participate in Ground Zero Virtual Hospitality Bootcamp. Use the promo code FRLA50 to receive 50% off the cost of the course.



Ground Zero Bootcamp
Save the date

Island Hopper Songs
from the Sofa, June 11

Save the date for 8 p.m. Thursday, June 11, and enjoy an Instagram live performance by singer/songwriter Jay Allen. This event will be great preview leading up to Island Hopper Songwriter Fest Sept. 18-27. Visit @islandhopperfest on Instagram to watch the archived first Songs from the Sofa event with Sam James. 

Island Hopper Songwriter Fest Songs from the Sofa

COVID-19 Industry Partner Conference Call, June 5

Please join the VCB for a conference call at 11 a.m. Friday, June 5, as we keep the lines of communication open between the Visitor & Convention Bureau and our industry partners. Visit for more information.

Business Resources
Travel Research & Trends

RESTART SWFL pledges to help businesses restore consumer confidence

RESTART SWFL is an initiative by Florida Gulf Coast University's Lutgert College of Business to help small businesses re-enter the marketplace and assist with helping businesses overcome the current lack of consumer confidence.

The program includes panels for health, business and ethics for local businesses. Upon completion of two of the panels and agreeing to a pledge of principles, businesses will receive a logo/seal of confidence to display at their business and website to show they meet or exceed health standards. 

April 1 Coronavirus Economic Impact Report

May 12 Follow-up Report

LODGING Editor Kate Hughes connected with Tamara Baldanza-Dekker, chief marketing officer at Margaritaville, Gary Gray, chief investment officer at 247 Hotels, and Mark Williams, CEO of Coakley Williams Hotel Management Co., to talk about how the hotel industry is ramping back up for summer leisure travelers. Watch or listen to the conversation hereLODGING is the official publication of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
Lodging on Demand YouTube Video

Hurricane season resources
The 2020 hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30, 2020. The VCB’s Hurricane Preparedness web page includes information to help you create your own disaster preparedness plan. The VCB will continue to stay in touch during this season. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Pam Brown by email or at 239-533-6709.

Watch the VCB's Virtual Hurricane Workshop
Let's get back to business
2:30 p.m. today, June 1
Carol Dover, president and CEO of the FRLA, and Dana Young, president and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, will discuss  rebounding and getting back to business, current VISIT FLORIDA initiatives, information on the upcoming VISIT FLORIDA in-state campaign, and free VISIT FLORIDA marketing resources, followed by a Q&A session. The webinar is open to members and nonmembers.
Leading heroically and ethically in the coronavirus era
10 a.m., Tuesday, June 9
COVID-19 has changed the social contract between businesses and their customers and employees. Join SWFL experts as they discuss how to lead heroically and think about the mindset shift needed to thrive during times of unprecedented crisis management.

How local businesses pivoted their business models during COVID-19
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Tuesday, June 9
A panel of local business owners from Fort Myers Brewing Compnay, The Island Cow and IMAG History & Science Center will discuss how they have pivoted their business model to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and how they  continue serving their clients and support their community.
Hosted by Southwest Florida Chapter of FPRA


Thrivability: PPP, you've got it, now what? 
8:30-9:30 a.m., Wednesday, June 10 
This complimentary program will feature local experts who will cover compliance and other rules associated with the Paycheck Protection Program.
Hosted by Southwest Florida Community Foundation

Visitor Services Spotlight

The VCB is proud to introduce you to some of our volunteer Tourism Ambassadors who help visitors in many different capacities: at the five Visitor Information Booths located at the Southwest Florida International Airport, for special Lee County Port Authority/RSW projects, and inside customs for international arrivals; staffing Visitor Information Booths at JetBlue Park and Hammond Stadium during spring training; conference and meetings assistance; and community events, such as the Lee County Travel Rally, Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, and the E Awards. They have extensive knowledge of our beautiful county, help direct visitors to their accommodations, and provide them with many great ideas of what to do and see while visiting.

Volunteer - Valerie Lindner
Volunteer - Bob Lindner

Valerie and Bob Lindner, Tourism Ambassadors since 2014. Bob is a former high school teacher and Valerie a former hospital administrator. They both also volunteer at Lovers Key State Park as naturalists and have a tremendous love of taking care of our visitors.

Volunteer - Cinder Connery

Cinder Connery, Tourism Ambassador since 2017. Cinder used to teach dental hygiene and now lights up the airport with her smile.

Volunteer - Vera Owens

Vera Owens, Tourism Ambassador since 2002. Vera is a marathon runner and has been a valuable part of the volunteer program for many years.

Volunteer - Cerstin Magaw

Cerstin Magaw, Tourism Ambassador since 2015. Born and raised in Germany, Cerstin is a very welcome help for our German visitors.

Volunteer - Ken Lewan

Ken Lewan, Tourism Ambassador since 2015. Ken owned his own insurance agency and brings his professionalism to the airport a few days each week.

Shout Outs
Media spotlight
Family Traveller (Unique Visitors Per Month 115,000) 
  • CROW Clinic
  • Sanibel Island
Fodor’s Travel  (UVM 934,090) 
  • Captiva Island
  • Fort Myers
  • Sanibel Island
  • South Seas Island Resort
  • The Bubble Room
National Geographic (UVM 22,945,920) 
  • Captiva Island
Red Tricycle (UVM 1,572,434) 
  • IMAG History & Science Center
The Points Guy (UVM 2,677,293) 
  • Captiva Island
  • Lee County
  • North Captiva Island
The Points Guy (UVM 5,130,000) 
  • Bailey’s General Store
  • Cip’s Place
  • Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill
  • Fort Myers
  • Island Inn
  • J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Keylime Bistro
  • Lazy Flamingo
  • Mitchell’s Sandcastles
  • Sanibel Island
  • Sanibel Vacation House Island Rentals
  • Sundial Beach Resort & Spa
  • Sunset Grill
  • The Clam Shack
Wherever Family (UVM 12,800) 
  • Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
  • Cabbage Key
  • Captiva
  • Captiva Cruises
  • Cayo Costa State Park
  • Crooked Snook Tiki Bar
  • Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill
  • Fort Myers
  • Harbourside Bar & Grill
  • J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Keylime Bistro
  • Sanibel Island
  • Sanibel Sea School
  • Scoops & Slices
  • South Seas Island Resort
  • Sunny Island Adventures
  • The Bubble Room
  • The Pointe
Best of SWFL

The VCB is happy to share with you the good things going on in our community. We’ve also included some virtual fun, too. If you have a “Best of SWFL” to contribute, please email Annie Banion at

#SWFLstrong stories

Local businesses honor nurses with artisan chocolate

  • Norman Love Confections
  • FineMark National Bank & Trust
  • Frontline Foods Southwest Florida

Cape Coral axe throwing facility helps frustrated graduates after coronavirus cancellations

  • TJ's Hatchet Hangout

Leatherback nesting recorded for first time on Sanibel Island

  • Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation

Captiva business owner kept her employees on payroll during shutdown

  • Stilwell Enterprises & Restaurant Group
LeeHealth nurses with Norman Love chocolate gift

Nurses and Norman Love chocolates

SCCF volunteers with Juniper the Leatherback sea turtle

Sea turtle nesting season

#SWFLstrong virtual experiences

How to make Beach Bread YouTube video
Beach cams
Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel memes
Click here for more virtual experiences
Virtually on the road
Gift from the Sea book club

'Gift from the Sea' book club

Writers from across the country met last week with the VCB's public relations team to discuss "Gift from the Sea" by Anne Morrow-Lindbergh. The book celebrates its 65th anniversary this year and Morrow-Lindbergh drew inspiration for the book during her visits to Captiva.

"Gift from the Sea" continues to resonate, exploring balance of life, work and relationships. This was a great opportunity to present the destination, in relation to the book, and we look forward to growing these relationships. 

Gift from the Sea
Chambers of Commerce
Boca Grande Greater Fort Myers Beach
Bonita Springs Greater Pine Island
Cape Coral Lehigh Acres
Estero North Fort Myers
Greater Fort Myers Sanibel & Captiva Island
The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel Logo with Website

2201 Second Street, Suite 600 | Fort Myers, FL 33901
Toll Free 800.237.6444  |  Local 239.338.3500

Sanibel & Captiva Islands
Fort Myers Beach
Fort Myers
Bonita Springs
Cape Coral
Pine Island
Boca Grande & Outer Islands
North Fort Myers
Lehigh Acres

Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau
2201 Second Street, Suite 600, Fort Myers, FL 33901, USA
phone: (239) 338-3500 | toll free: (800) 237-6444

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