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December 2020 VCB Newsletter
COVID-19 Resources

Looking forward to 2021

Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are almost here and 2020 is almost done.

Even with the pandemic impacting the tourism industry more than any sector, we have reasons to be optimistic as we look ahead to 2021.

We are off to a good start to the fiscal year. Bed tax collection was up 3.7% in October which is the second month in a row of increased collections. This is a great indication of our industry's resilience and a sign of things starting to bounce back.

New flights: For the first time, Alaska Airlines now offers flights to Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW). This opens the West Coast as a new market for the destination with four weekly nonstop flights each to RSW from Los Angeles International and Seattle-Tacoma International.

For those who want to escape this winter, RSW's other new daily flights by airline, include:

  • United - Boston, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York-LaGuardia and Pittsburgh
  • JetBlue - Cleveland, New York-LaGuardia, Philadelphia and Raleigh/Durham
  • Southwest - Houston-Hobby, Louisville and Orlando
  • Sun County Airlines - St. Louis and Madison

New hotels: The opening of the 243-room Luminary Hotel & Co. in the River District leads the way for a resurgence in downtown lodging. Other new hotels include a 100-room SpringHill Suites Fort Myers Estero and an 80-room Holiday Inn Express & Suites Fort Myers Beach-Sanibel Gateway.

Seven more hotels – a total of 789 rooms – throughout Lee County are under construction with plans to open this month through April 2021.

New confidence: A recent consumer sentiment survey by Downs & St. Germain Research shows 59% now feel safe going to a beach and 51% now feel safe vacationing again. Our destination offers a range of outdoor activities and natural experiences that makes it unique and welcoming to people looking to escape the cold.

New Sun Saver Passport: The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) has launched a free mobile savings passport that is available to Lee County locals and visitors. Users have access to exclusive deals on attractions, restaurants and experiences throughout the destination. To request your business be added, please contact Nancy MacPhee, VCB product development manager, at (Scroll down for more information.)

From all of us at the VCB, we wish you Happy Holidays and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Tamara Pigott

VCB executive director

Tamara Pigott Headshot
COVID-19 Resources

The VCB 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:

For red tide information, visit Lee County Water Quality Resources


Sun Saver Passport

To participate:

In these unprecedented times, the VCB is pleased to support our local businesses by offering their discounts to our local community and visitors. As the year ends and we welcome 2021, we encourage everyone to visit a new attraction, enjoy a meal at a restaurant or get out on the water and explore.

Discounts and savings available at area attractions include:

  • ECHO Global Farm in North Fort Myers
  • Edison and Fort Winter Estates in Fort Myers
  • IMAG History & Science Center in Fort Myers
  • Estero River Outfitters in Estero
  • Plus, many more
Sun saver passport

Travel Weekly

VISIT FLORIDA woos a more diverse clientele with new marketing partnership

Lee County

Parks & Recreation offers holiday events


E-ZPass gets OK from county

E-Z Pass available locally in 2021

New Shellcast episode features Everglades Wonder Gardens 

Shellcast episode 8: Everglades Wonder Gardens
Welcome new VCB staff member

Fiscal manager April Bonetz

Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) welcomes April Bonetz as its new fiscal manager.

Bonetz’s role will include preparing and monitoring the operating budget for the VCB as well as overseeing funds for the capital improvement project and Beach & Shoreline budget. She will also develop and implement fiscal policies and procedures in addition to working on grants, contracts and interlocal agreements and marketing funds.

Bonetz brings more than 30 years of accounting experience to the VCB.

She most recently served as payroll manager for Juniper Landscaping. She also worked as operations manager for Gateway Services Community Development District and served as management budget administrator for the City of Cape Coral.

Prior to that role, Bonetz spent more than 11 years as finance director for Estero Fire Rescue. She also spent two years as a grants coordinator for the Lee Board of County Commissioners and 10 years as an accountant for Lee County Clerk of Court as well as an accounting clerk early in her career.

Bonetz is a certified public accountant and earned her bachelor’s degree in 

accounting and general business from the University of South Florida. A Lee County native, she resides in Cape Coral with her family.
Get to know April!
  • What's your favorite restaurant in Lee County? Overtime in SW Cape.
Do you prefer:
  • Walk on the beach or hike (by Florida standards) in the woods? Definitely a walk on the beach.
  • Instagram or photo album? Photo album, I am old school.
  • Morning light or golden hour? I love to see the day come in. I am an early bird.
  • Coffee or tea? Tea for me
Save the date

Island Hopper Songs
from the Sofa, Dec. 17

Save the date for 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, and enjoy an Instagram live performance by singer/songwriter Danny Myrick.

Watch from the comfort of your sofa while you're looking forward to the next Island Hopper Songwriter Fest Sept. 18-27. Visit @islandhopperfest on Instagram to watch previous performances. 

Island Hopper Songwriter Fest Songs from the Sofa
Shout Outs
Media spotlight

BuzzFeed (UVM 49,493,058)
15 Beautiful islands that’ll make you forget all about traveling abroad

  • Captiva Island
  • Fort Myers

Forbes (UVM 101,202,240)
200 Best travel deals for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Travel Tuesday

  • Captiva Island
  • South Seas Island Resort

Redbook (also syndicated to Yahoo!Life (UVM 1,733,481/ 200,255,070)
The world’s most beautiful beaches for ultimate relaxation

  • Sanibel Island

The Points Guy (also syndicated on MSN Lifestyle (UVM 8,031,879/ 129,576,780)
11 Things to do on Florida’s Sanibel and Captiva Islands

  • Alison Hagerup Park
  • Bailey’s General Store
  • Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
  • Billy’s Bike Shop
  • Blind Pass Beach
  • Bowman’s Beach
  • Boca Grande
  • Cabbage Key
  • Captiva Cruises
  • Captiva Island
  • Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages
  • Cayo Costa State Park
  • Dunes Golf & Tennis Club
  • Finnimore’s Cycle Shop
  • Gulfside City Park
  • J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Lighthouse Beach
  • New Wave Eco Charters
  • Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation
  • Sanibel Historical Museum and Village
  • Sanibel Island
  • Sanibel Island Cruise Line
  • Sanibel Moorings Resort
  • South Seas Island Resort
  • Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW)
  • Sunset Grill
  • Tarpon Bay Explorers
  • Tarpon Beach
  • Tarpon Lodge
  • The Mad Hatter Restaurant
  • Turner Beach
  • Useppa Island

Travel Pulse (also syndicated to MSN Lifestyle, News Break) UVM 357,867/ 129,576,780/ 27,092,790)
Short trip vacation ideas for every region of the US

  • Sanibel Island
Virtually on the road
People want to go to Florida as always in summer 2021
Pivoting back to travel

'People will want to go to Florida as always in summer 2021,' Nov. 13, Stefanie Zinke, UK, Travel Weekly and partners at South Seas Island Resort, Captiva Cruises and J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge shared insight of our destination with close to 16,000 travel agents through various channels.

Pivoting Back to Travel, Oct. 27, Jennifer Walla, over 1,300 travel agents attended the live webinar and recording available to agents on Questex website.

November & December virtual meeting planner shows attended:
Nov. 4: Jerry Terp, Global Meetings Incentive Summit
Nov. 8-10: Betsy Bush, Smart Meetings National Show
Nov. 10: Jerry, Terp, Greater Midwest Chapter of PCMA Event
Nov. 18: Jerry Terp, GPS Impactful Events (Midwest A)
Nov. 18-20: Erin Congregane, Event Industry Council (EIC) Advance

Dec. 2: Betsy Bush, GPS Impactful Events (Northeast)
Dec. 9: Jerry Terp, GPS Impactful Events (Midwest B)

Dec. 10: Betsy Bush, GPS Impactful Events (Mid-Atlantic)

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

Cover photo: Christmas lights at Captiva Chapel by the Sea, photo by Judie Zimomra

Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau
2201 2nd street, STE 600 Fort Myers, FL 33901
phone: (239) 338-3500 | toll free: (800) 237-6444


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