Tourism bureau announces soaring bed tax collections

The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau announced record-breaking bed tax levies for the 2020-2021 tourism season at its recent Tourism Outlook Annual Meeting at the Marriott Sanibel Harbor Resort & Spa in Fort Myers.

The bed tax levied for the fiscal year broke all records in the county’s history and was $ 53,332,883, an increase of nearly 40% from 2020 and nearly 25% from 2019.

“The best bed tax in history is definitely something to celebrate,” said Brian Hamman, Lee County commissioner and chairman of the Tourist Development Council. “Our destination stayed open, welcomed visitors and watched tourism flourish. In fact, it didn’t even slow down in the normally slower summer months. “

The VCB is funded by a 5% tourist tax levied by tourists on accommodation rented for six months or less. The allocation of the bed tax funds is made up of 20% for sports facilities, 26.4% for beaches and 53.6% for tourism marketing.

“The fact that we had our best year during a pandemic speaks for our destination and its natural surroundings,” said Tamara Pigott, Executive Director of VCB. “Every traveler wanted to go here because of our beaches and wide open spaces. The gifts that we have from Mother Nature have positioned our goal well during this time. “

In addition to the record-breaking bed tax, the VCB also presented a new branding strategy, a new marketing campaign, a new website and a new visitor guide.

The VCB presented its annual Junonia Award to Judie Zimomra, who recently retired as Sanibel City Manager. During her 20 years’ service, Ms. Zimomra helped secure more than $ 30 million in tourism development taxes for beach and coastal projects.

“Today we recognize her leadership, dedication and passion – but most importantly, the way our visitors benefited from her dedication in everything she did,” said Ms. Pigott. “She really was an ambassador who has shown how great it is to live, work and play on Sanibel Island.”

Launched in 2006, the Junonia Award recognizes individuals who make a positive impact on the Lee County’s tourism community by demonstrating unique skills, leadership, dedication, and dedication. The award is named after the Junonia, a valued clam known for its rarity and exceptional quality.

Last year’s award winner was Jeanne Bigos, former General Manager of the Outrigger Beach Resort on Fort Myers Beach.

Keynote speaker Samantha Brown, host of the Emmy Award-winning travel series, Samantha Brown’s Places to Love, spoke about the emotional value of travel and how travelers can have more meaningful experiences by being more in the present. |

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