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April 2021 VCB Newsletter
From the bureau

Positive Projections 

I have a great deal of optimism about summer of 2021. While the future of the pandemic remains uncertain, with vaccinations ramping up all over the country, I am particularly bullish on domestic travel this summer. The personal savings rate has gone up, and people are telling us that they are ready to travel.

In fact, our most recent consumer sentiment research study from March 17 shows that 4 in 5 consumers have a vacation planned in the near future, and they are using the words excited, safe and ready when speaking about travel. And, for the first time since the pandemic began, they are most interested in marketing messages that are tied to experiences rather than safety measures.

A few projects our teams have been working on since the fall are paying off now. We’re especially proud of these two:

Cover of Southern Living
The April issue – known as “The South’s Best” – features Sanibel on the cover and the island is also included as one of the magazine’s Best Beach Towns of 2021. More than a dozen partners were featured in this annual double issue. The magazine reaches more than 26 million people each month through a variety of platforms.

Southern Living Cover Image
Samantha Brown Places to Love

“Samantha Brown’s Places to Love”
Set your DVR for 4:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, April 24, to see the natural beauty and personalities of our area – from the comfort of your home – in an all-new episode of Samantha Brown’s travel show on WGCU. Brown’s refreshing and enriching travel experiences were such a perfect fit with our destination that we decided to be a season 4 sponsor of the PBS series. The show reaches roughly 1.5 million viewers.

Our friends at WGCU are hosting a virtual screening party that includes a Q&A session with Samantha Brown. If you are interested in attending the virtual event on Friday April 23 from 4:30 – 6 p.m. please reserve your spot here. There will be prizes!

These public relations and marketing efforts can only strengthen our exposure to visitors. We thank you for working with us on these projects. Get ready for a very busy summer.
Executive Director


Industry Partner News
Dave Jensen
Dave Jensen at the end of a Marching Mullet Parade.
The News-Press

In Memoriam

The tourism community is mourning Dave Jensen, who along with his family, had managed Jensen’s Twin Palm Resort and Marina on Captiva Island for decades. Dave greeted every guest with a smile and helped the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau with its tourism efforts anytime he could. He was on the boards of the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce and the Captiva Erosion Prevention District for years. His kindness, generosity and passion for Captiva and Southwest Florida will be missed.

Lee County News
Moira Larkin

Welcome Visitor Services Coordinator Moira Larkin

The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) welcomes Moira Larkin as its new Visitor Services coordinator.

Larkin's role will include coordinating the recruitment, training and supervision of volunteers who work for the VCB. She will also provide informational and support assistance to visitors arriving at Southwest Florida International Airport, as well as play an integral role in producing Visitor Services’ special events. 

Larkin most recently worked as a fundraising manager for David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC) in Naples managing fundraising, recognition and community events; overseeing special events volunteers; as well as generating and nurturing sponsor and donor relationships.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in resort and hospitality management from Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). While a student at FGCU, she worked as events and marketing intern for the VCB in addition to volunteering with Visitor Services for a number of months to fulfill required volunteer hours.

Larkin is a Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP) and currently serves as secretary of the Young Professionals of Naples and as president of the Fort Myers/Naples Phi Mu alumnae chapter.

Join us in welcoming her to the team at

Get to know Moira!

  • What's your favorite restaurant in Lee County? Pizza Pub
  • Walk on the beach or hike (by Florida standards) in the woods? Any activity on the beach!
  • Instagram or photo album? Instagram
  • Morning light or golden hour? Definitely golden hour – especially near the water!
  • Coffee or tea? Coffee, coffee, COFFEE!


Sun Saver Passport: Partners, please remember to add your deals on attractions, restaurants and experiences throughout our community. The passport is available via mobile phones. There have been more than 3,975 passport downloads and 250 offers have been redeemed.

Threshold 360: There’s still time to get your appointment with Threshold 360 to capture a free, virtual tour of your location. So far, 161 locations have videos. Please contact Jennifer Walla at to find out more about Threshold 360 benefits and scheduling.

Domestic Sales Activities
Connect CYBER image

March 2-4: Connect CYBER, Jerry Terp (VCB) with meeting planner conducting a virtual one-on-one appointment.

Faith-Based Planner Virtual FAM image

March 2: Faith-Based Planner Virtual FAM, Candice Cocco (VCB) giving a destination overview to the virtual planner audience.

Virtual meeting planner shows attended
March 2:
Faith-Based Planner Virtual FAM, Candice Cocco
March 2-4: Connect CYBER, Jerry Terp
March 4: United Kingdom Virtual Roadshow, Stefanie Zinke
March 9-12: ITB Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Börse), Stefanie Zinke
March 10-11:
 Travalliance Virtual Family Travel Expo, Jennifer Walla
March 24-25:
Incentive Travel Meetings & Events World Expo, Betsy Bush
Upcoming virtual shows
April 9:
MPI Global Meetings Industry Day, Betsy Bush
April 13: Travalliance TravelPulse Live Webinar, Jennifer Walla
April 20-23: Florida West Coast Virtual Travel Agent Sales Mission,
Jennifer Walla & Shelley Crant
April 21:
 Northstar Meetings Diversity Now Live Webinar, Erin Lester
International Sales Activities
UK Virtual Sales Roadshow

March 4: The VCB hosted a virtual roadshow to the United Kingdom’s travel trade for destination education, training and product updates. The following hotel partners also participated: The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, the Luminary Hotel & Co., Outrigger Beach Resort and the Sanibel Inn.

March 9-12: Virtual ITB Berlin - The largest virtual trade show event with 65,700 participants. The VCB's Germany team and Stefanie Zinke held 25 meetings with key trade partners including DERTOUR, CANUSA and AMERICA UNLIMITED, to name a few.

Visiting Journalists

March 12-16: Journalist, Kristi Dosh (Oribitz & Travelocity) was one of three individual press trips the VCB hosted to showcase Spring Training from publications including Condé Nast, Forbes and The Boston Globe. 

Shout Outs

March 1: HGTV (UVM 3,407,461)
By Erin Gifford
  • Bowman’s Beach
  • Cayo Costa State Park
  • Sanibel Island
  • Sanibel Sea School
March 5: Travel Pulse (UVM 832,395)
By Donald Wood
  • Fort Myers
  • Sanibel Island
March 9: Southern Living (UVM 1,944,926)
  • Sanibel Island
March 9: Southern Living (UVM 1,944,926)
  • 400 Rabbits
  • Adventures in Paradise
  • Algier’s Beach
  • Bailey’s General Store
  • Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
  • Billy’s Bike Shop
  • Bowman’s Beach
  • Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille
  • Fort Myers
  • Gene’s Books
  • Island Style Galleries
  • J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Joey’s Custard
  • Periwinkle Cottages
  • Periwinkle’s Place
  • Sanibel Island
  • Sanibel Sea School
  • Sundial Beach Resort & Spa
  • Sweet Melissa’s Café
  • Trader Rick’s
  • ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa
March 14: Forbes (UVM 101,202,240)
  • Crazy Dingo Brewing
March 24: Fodor's Travel (UVM 934,090)
  • Castaways Cottages
  • Sanibel Island
Southern Living's The South's Best article
Southern Living Island Treasure article
HGTV 25 Best Family-Friendly Beaches article
Fodor's Forget Hawaii, go to these 10 U.S. Islands Instead

 Our 2020 Annual Visitor Profile Summary is in!

Review it here
Tourist Development Council

Application Cycle for TDC Funding Programs Open This Month

The Tourist Development Council (TDC) provides financial assistance to strengthen awareness of local arts, attractions and cultural venues that enhance the visitor experience and destination appeal, with the goal of encouraging overnight stays. Not-for-profit event organizers, arts organizations and cultural attractions are encouraged to develop unique marketing programs and partnerships to achieve this goal.

The application cycles for fiscal year 2021-2022 Events & Attraction Marketing funding will open this month. Prospective applicants are welcome to review each program application and timeline here.

April TDC Meeting

Tourist Development Council (TDC) meetings are held at the Lee County Admin East Building, 2201 Second St., Room 118, Fort Myers.

When: 2 p.m., Thursday, April 8
Agenda: Available one week before meeting 
Wear a mask: To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we respectfully ask that all attendees follow CDC guidelines including wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines.
Watch live: There will also be a live stream of the TDC meeting on Lee TV.
TDC Meeting Facebook event page

2021 TDC Meeting Dates

9 a.m. Thursday, May 13
2 p.m. Thursday, June 10
July - No meeting
2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12
September - No meeting
9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 14
9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10
9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 9
Save the date

In-Person April FRLA Luncheon 

It is no secret that tourism communities are in need of quality staff to fill employment needs. So, what is SWFL doing to support those efforts? Join the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association for its Hospitality Staffing Luncheon on Wednesday, April 21 to hear from guest speaker, Catherine Curtis, new hospitality director at FGCU, as the community discusses updates on the high school ProStart/Culinary and Hospitality programs along with resources to find qualified staff.

Wednesday, April 21
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. 
Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center
National Travel & Tourism Week

May 2-8: National Travel & Tourism Week

Save the dates and celebrate the power of travel and tourism and the value it holds for our community, economy, businesses and personal well-being. In place of our annual in-person Travel Rally, this year we will be celebrating virtually and want you to join us!

During the first week of May, the VCB will showcase appreciation for the local tourism and hospitality industries and the importance these businesses have played in bringing back our vibrant communities and helping restore the local economy. Be sure to follow our VCB Facebook page and website for more information.

Florida Attractions Association Logo

Florida Attractions Association Annual Conference

Attractions professionals across Florida will meet in Fort Myers for the Florida Attractions Association 2021 Annual Conference. Join industry colleagues for three days of keynote speakers, breakout sessions, roundtables and professional networking.

Aug. 29 - Sept. 1
Luminary Hotel & Co., Fort Myers
COVID-19 Economic Aid

PPP Deadline Extended to May 31

In March, the U.S. Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Extension Act of 2021, which extends the deadline for the PPP to May 31, 2021, with an additional 30 days for the Small Businesses Administration to process applications.

PPP Forgiveness Webinar

Join the US Small Business Administration’s South Florida District Office to explore the next steps in the PPP process.

Friday, April 2
1 - 2 p.m. 
Register here
COVID-19 & red tide resources


Vaccine at Publix
United Way 211 Hotline
Lee County Government
Lee County VCB


Vaccine pre-registration
Florida COVID-19 response


U.S. Travel Association's COVID relief summary
CDC travel alerts
Red tide resources


Lee County water quality resources
Lee County VCB beach updates
Red tide fact sheet


Florida Wildlife Commission daily red tide sample map
Red Tide respiratory forecast tool
Chambers of Commerce

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Sanibel & Captiva Islands

The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel Logo with Website

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

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