To view this message in a browser window, click here.

May 2021 VCB Newsletter
From the bureau

National Travel and Tourism Week
Celebrating the Power of Travel

Lee County celebrates National Travel & Tourism Week (NTTW) May 2-8 and recognizes the critical role travel plays in driving our local economy.

In place of the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau's (VCB) annual in-person Travel Rally, a virtual, weeklong celebration features engaging videos about the people and places that make Southwest Florida special to visitors and our community. The VCB will showcase and honor local tourism and hospitality industries, and share the importance these businesses have played in bolstering the local economy.

Join us on Facebook and for the fun!

The NTTW schedule includes:

  • Sunsational Sunday, May 2, kicks off NTTW as we celebrate the importance of the tourism industry, its workforce and the impact within the community, along with educating the public on the Power of Travel.
  • Magical Managers Monday, May 3, highlights three leaders that make a difference in Lee County’s tourism community. 
  • Be Kind Tuesday, May 4, recognizes employees whose acts of kindness have helped guide us through the pandemic.
  • Wanderlust Wednesday, May 5, creates an urge to get out and explore some of Lee County’s hidden gems and shows how to plan a vacation in your own backyard.
  • Throwback Thursday, May 6, reminds us how far Lee County tourism – from its ecological wonders to history and culture – has come. 
  • Fantastic Friday, May 7, showcases the Power of Travel through economic spending, the local workforce and our tourism ambassador program at Southwest Florida International Airport. 
  • Small Business Saturday, May 8, recognizes the resilient business owners who have had an impact in our local tourism community as we continue our recovery. Their support of the VCB’s cost-saving Sun Saver Passport is helping keep our community thriving with discounted experiences.  

Have a great month and please join us as we celebrate the Power of Travel and how it will help drive our industry’s recovery.

Executive Director


Industry Partner News

FutureMakers Coalition

2021 Workforce Employer Survey

COVID-19 brought many challenges to Southwest Florida’s employers. Yet even during the pandemic, the region’s employers identified finding qualified employees as the biggest challenge to their workforce/talent needs.

This 2021 Workforce Employer Survey, conducted by the FutureMakers Coalition, attempts to better understand the recruiting, hiring and training approaches and challenges organizations must overcome to find qualified employees as we begin to put the pandemic behind us. The data gathered in the survey will be reported in an unidentifiable format and specific information about your organization will not be published.


Shuttered Venue Operators Grant 

The Small Business Administration has successfully reopened the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application portal. Learn more on programs details, eligibility and how to apply.

Lee County News
E Awards

E Awards accepting nominations 

Do you work with colleagues who have gone above and beyond what was expected and deserve to be recognized?

No matter their profession – taxi drivers, housekeeping staff, cashiers, police officers, airline agents, nurses, reservationists, front desk clerks and countless others – if they provided exceptional service for our visitors, we want to hear about it. It’s easy to nominate your colleagues at

The Elaine McLaughlin Outstanding Hospitality Service Awards (E Awards) will be held virtually on Thursday, Aug. 26.

Nomination deadline: Thursday, July 15.

E Awards information: Visit for nomination forms or contact Simone Behr at

Songs from the Sand May 20

Songs from the Sand May 20

'Samantha Brown's Places to Love' 

Samantha Brown's Places to Love

Get your deals included on the Sun Saver Passport

Partners, please remember to add your deals on attractions, restaurants and experiences throughout our community. The Sun Saver Passport is available via mobile phones.

Right now, there are 67 partner deals. There have been more than 4,132 passport downloads and 303 offers have been redeemed.

Domestic sales

March 17-18: Travalliance Virtual Family Travel Expo, Jennifer Walla, VCB, chatted with travel agents in the virtual booth. The event was attended by over 900 travel agents.

March 24-25: Incentive Travel Meetings & Events World Expo, Betsy Bush’s avatar, VCB, prepares virtual booth for meeting planner appointments.

Virtual meeting planner shows attended
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
April 21: Midwest Destination Reps virtual quarterly meeting, Jerry Terp
April 29: Digital Destinations virtual planner FAM, Erin Lester
April 29-May 3: Wedding Chicks blogger/influencer FAM & photo shoot, Jennifer Walla
Upcoming virtual shows
May 5: GPS Impactful Events Southeast, Erin Lester
May 6: GPS Impactful Events Financial & Insurance Markets, Jerry Terp
May 10-13: Global Meeting & Incentive Travel Exchange (GMITE) 2021, Betsy Bush & Jerry Terp
May 17-20: Florida East Coast virtual travel agent sales mission, Jennifer Walla & Shelley Crant
May 25: ABA Marketplace On-Demand, Candice Coco

International sales and public relations

Rotating photos include: UK RoadShow, the first-ever virtual event with five hotel partners, including Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa, The Westin Cape Coral at Marina Village, Outrigger Beach Resort, Sanibel Inn and Luminary Hotel & Co. Over 65 travel agents trained in individual sessions as well as one-on-one appointments held with product managers.
Trade Show Events Global includes 12 trade show events held across all markets in Q2 by the international team, including ITB in Germany in March and UK's Unite.
Canada Weather Network in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA, the 18-minute destination segment aired in March and highlighted Six Mile Cypress Slough, the Great Calusa Blueway and a fishing with Capt. Mike Zeleny.

April-May activities
April 17: Podcast "WeltTournee" Germany
April 20-21: Brand USA Focus on UK & Ireland 
April 28: Spoiled Agent Travel Trade Event, Canada
April 29-30: FVW Counter Days, Germany 
April 30: Spoiled Agent National Canada Event 
May 17, 24 and 31: Consortia webinar series, Canada

Coffee talk 

Stefanie Zinke, VCB, got together last month with German radio host Eike Knall for an interview at Luminary Hotel & Co. This turned out to be a great opportunity to include Ulrich Winckler of Dean Street Coffee Roastery and Bob Megazzini, Luminary general manager. 

Knall's travel segments can be heard on Antenne Frankfurt which has a total reach of 1.6 million through the group of radio stations.  

Rotating photos of Eike Knall interviewing Ulrich Winckler and Stefanie Zinke.

Visiting journalists

South Seas Coastal Distancing FAM

Rotating photos include Verdel Eckberg, South Seas Island Resort director of sales and marketing, showing visiting journalists some photos after the Sunset Celebration during the recent Coastal Distancing FAM, and visiting writer Scott Kendall at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.

April 6-9: South Seas Island Resort's Coastal Distancing FAM included writers for Forbes, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Daily Meal, Style Blueprint, Garden & Gun, City & Shore and Boca Raton Magazine.

April 22-25: Journalist Scott Kendall of 


The future of audio

Lesley-Ann Thompson, VCB, was a panelist at the Women in Travel Summit Week Exclusive Workshop. The Future of Audio included discussions on how marketing can incorporate sound into travel stories.

March 21: FishingBooker (UVM 181,680)
  • Boca Grande Pass
  • Fort Myers Beach
  • Sanibel Island
March 30: U.S. News & World Report (UVM 15,020,000)
  • Bowman's Beach
  • Captiva Island
    • J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
    • Sanibel
    • Sundial Beach Resort & Spa
April 5: PureWow (UVM 1,128,004)
By Clarissa Buch
  • Cape Coral
  • Captiva
  • Sanibel
April 19: Forbes (UVM 33,734,080)
  • Cabbage Key
  • Captiva
  • Captiva Cruises
  • J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Offshore Sailing School
  • Sanibel
  • South Seas Island Resort

April 21: National Geographic (UVM 6,794,000)
By Terry Ward
  • J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Sanibel
Tourist Development Council

May TDC Meeting

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

When: 9 a.m., Thursday, May 13
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: Lee TV

2021 TDC Meeting dates

2 p.m. THURSDAY, JUNE 10
2 p.m. THURSDAY, AUG. 12
9 a.m. THURSDAY, OCT. 14
9 a.m. WEDNESDAY, NOV. 10
9 a.m. THURSDAY, DEC. 9
Save the date

Restaurant Revitalization Fund training May 4

The Small Business Administration District will host a presentation and Q&A on the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. This fund provides $28.6 billion in direct relief funds to restaurants and other food establishments hardest hit by the pandemic. The session is designed to prepare applicants before the process goes live. No registration is required.

When: Noon Tuesday, May 4

Where: Join the Teams event


Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center rooftop opening May 7

Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center rooftop opening

The long-awaited opening of the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center rooftop sculpture garden and reception area will include an open house of the entire building. 

When: 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday, May 7, as part of Art Walk

Address: 2301 First St., Fort Myers

Florida Attractions Association Logo

Florida Attractions Association 2021 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.

When: Aug. 29-Sept. 1
Where: Luminary Hotel & Co. 

Applications for TDC marketing funding programs still open

Application cycle for TDC funding programs open

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 assist the VCB in achieving this goal.

Program guidelines can be viewed here

Application deadlines:

  • Events Marketing Program, May 14
  • Attractions Marketing Program, June 1

Enjoy this 60-second look at our destination, thanks to VISIT FLORIDA

Our destination in 60 seconds
COVID-19 Economic Aid

PPP deadline extended to May 31

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

COVID-19 & red tide resources

Vaccination appointments available online

Vaccination appointments available online

Schedule your own appointment time online to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at the Lee County Vaccination Site, located inside former Sears location at the Edison Mall.


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

Boca Grande
Cape Coral
East Lee County
Fort Myers Beach


Greater Fort Myers
Greater Pine Island

North Fort Myers
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

If you'd like, you can unsubscribe or update your subscription preferences.