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How tourism plays in the decision to relocate a Fortune 500 company

May 8, 2013
Estero shoreline
Another beautiful beach, another sunny day in Lee County. / Courtesy of the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bu


Iím sure you have heard the good news that Hertzís global headquarters is relocating to Lee County. But I bet you havenít considered the role tourism played in their decision to relocate. Hertz CEO called their decision a ďquality-of-life issue.Ē They are moving here for the same reasons you live here: beautiful beaches, sunny weather, excellent golfing, and more.

But while Hertz employees may have to endure more cold weather until they become residents, you can enjoy the area right now. Many of our seasonal guests have left, school is almost out and itís time to think about summer fun.

The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel is offering summer savings packages and special Florida resident rates. Enjoy warm Gulf waters, shelling on the areaís white-sand shores ó and save money. Properties offering reduced rates include the Holiday Inn Sanibel Island Beach Resort, Outrigger Beach Resort, The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village, Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa, Island Inn, The Holiday Inn in downtown Fort Myers and others.

Savings can also be found for those seeking adventure at Sun Splash Water Park or wanting to enjoy a dolphin and wildlife cruise at Adventures in Paradise, Inc. You can find all the deals at

Fun also includes prizes. Enter the Time for an Island Sweepstakes for a chance to win one of four experiences inspired by our resident island experts. Those experts include: Brian Houston, nationally recognized kayaker and naturalist; Pam Rambo, sheller extraordinaire; Leoma Lovegrove, internationally renowned Matlacha artist; and Randy Wayne White, author, restaurateur and fisherman. This sweepstakes offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences including fishing for tarpon in Boca Grande and kayaking the Great Calusa Blueway. Go to for a chance to win daily prizes through June 30.

I would be remiss if I didnít say happy birthday to industries and organizations that are vital to our lives in many ways.

Happy Birthday

Happy 30th birthday to Southwest Florida International Airport. It celebrates its success this spring as 1.12 million passengers made March its busiest month since it opened in 1983.

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Happy birthday Chicoís, which began as a small boutique in 1983, selling Mexican folk art and cotton sweaters on Sanibel Island. Since then, itís morphed into more than 700 Chicoís boutiques nationwide, a monthly catalog and round-the-clock shopping.

The Veranda in downtown Fort Myers celebrates 35 years this year by giving away $11,200 with monthly drawings through Oct. 31, 2013. The restaurant will also be donating $350 to a different food-related local charity each month and $3,500 of in-kind services.

Last week at the Tourism Travel Rally Day in downtown Fort Myers, we honored our tourism partners and celebrated Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureauís 30th birthday. It has accomplished a lot since it was founded in 1983 to maintain and build year-round tourism in Lee County. Fun fact: Tourist tax collections for calendar year 1984 were $1.9 million. For 2011- 2012, tourist tax collections were $26.5 million.

Many of those dollars get poured back into fortifying our sandy beaches and improving our environment. Get out and enjoy the same things that bring companies to Lee County and draws visitors from all over the world. Season is over. Find your own time for an island.

ó Tamara Pigott is the executive director of The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB), the lead marketing agency charged with bringing worldwide visitors to Lee County. Almost five million visitors spend nearly $3 billion annually. The VCB is funded exclusively by a 5 percent tourist tax and works to preserve and protect area beaches and the environment.

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