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Florida Prepares For Tourism Season After Irma

People walk through an airport
People walk through an airport

Two months from now, the Atlantic hurricane season ends, just as Florida’s tourism season begins.

Gov. Rick Scott announced last month that Florida had the highest number of visitors in a six-month period in its history. Nearly 61 million people visited the state in the first half of 2017.

Now, a month later, the state is recovering from a direct hit by Hurricane Irma. This raises the question of if Florida can recover in time to keep its record-breaking momentum going.

The executive director of the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Tamara Pigott, joins Gulf Coast Live to talk about what the county expects tourism season to look like after Irma.

Just south of Lee County, Collier took the eye of the storm at its strongest. Once heavily favored in Florida’s ecotourism sector, Collier’s pristine beaches, botanical gardens and airboat rides are all still in the process of recovering.

Pigott’s counterpart for the Naples, Marco and Everglades region, Jack Wert, joins Gulf Coast Live to talk about how tourism looks for the southernmost regions of Southwest Florida.

And, Lee Port Authority’s director of air service development, Carol Obermeier, knows a lot about local tourism, as most visitors arrive through Southwest Florida International Airport. She talks about preparing for these guests while coming off of the active hurricane season.

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Julie Glenn is the host of Gulf Coast Live. She has been working in southwest Florida as a freelance writer since 2007, most recently as a regular columnist for the Naples Daily News. She began her broadcasting career in 1993 as a reporter/anchor/producer for a local CBS affiliate in Quincy, Illinois. After also working for the NBC affiliate, she decided to move to Parma, Italy where she earned her Master’s degree in communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Her undergraduate degree in Mass Communication is from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
RachelIacovoneis a reporter and associate producer of Gulf Coast LiveforWGCU News. Rachel came toWGCU as an intern in 2016, during the presidential race. She went on to cover Florida Gulf Coast University students at President Donald Trump's inauguration on Capitol Hill and Southwest Floridians in attendance at the following day's Women's March on Washington.
Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.