Fort Myers Tourism Bouncing Back

Fort Myers Tourism Bouncing Back

Fort Myers Beach (Photo via Noreen Kompanik)

A crack of the bat echoed loudly on Friday as the Boston Red Sox opened their spring training schedule in Fort Myers, Florida, at JetBlue Park.

But it wasn’t the same.

Although most of the major east coast and cold-weather baseball teams have a presence in Florida for a couple of months for spring training, including the New York Mets and Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, the Detroit Tigers, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and even the Saint Louis Cardinals, it is still just five months removed from Hurricane Ian.

And the reminders are everywhere.

Many businesses and restaurants are still boarded up.

There are blue tarps everywhere that people have draped over their homes.

A ‘tent city’ has sprung up near Fort Myers Beach for the homeless and displaced.

But the community persevered, and they take strength in numbers. According to Lee County officials on Friday, tourism is only down about 20 percent to previous years. And tourism to Southwest Florida is very much reopened.

There are beaches and nature preserves. Not to mention the heat, which has been flirting with 90 degrees the past several days.

Fort Myers has been touting its downtown area, access to the Gulf from the River, easy access to Miami across Alligator Alley, its relative closeness to Disney World, and its islands that were unaffected by the hurricane.

This is also the home of the Winter Estates for Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.

And, of course, there’s spring training baseball. Fort Myers is not only home to the Red Sox, but the Minnesota Twins as well.

“While our destination might look a bit different from years past, there’s still a lot to see and do in Fort Myers as many local businesses have reopened,” said Tamara Pigott, Executive Director of the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau in a statement. “Our local community has shown extraordinary resilience during what has been one of the most challenging times of our lives. The announcement that some of our beaches are able to reopen is just the beginning of our road to recovery, and we’re excited to welcome visitors back for Spring Training.”

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