The Tourism Development Council met in Fort Myers on Thursday, April 11, and that was the occasion to receive the February tourism numbers for Lee County. The TDC noted bed tax collection was record breaking and passengers traveling through the Southwest Florida International Airport was up by 6 percent that month.

The TDC reported preliminary tourist development tax collected for February was $5,394,964, a 1.3 percent increase over February 2018 preliminary collections of $5,323,507. Fiscal year-to-date tourist tax collections are $18,443,742, a decrease of 3.4 percent year-over-year.

The February statistics also show a decrease in average occupancy rate, the average daily rate charged for a room and revenue available per room for hotels, motels, resorts and bed and breakfasts. The occupancy rate in February fell from 88 percent in 2018 to 86 percent this year, and the daily rate was $3 less per night than last year.

The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau is funded by 5 percent of the tourist tax collected on accommodations rented for six months or less. Twenty-six percent of those funds go toward beach and shoreline improvements and maintenance.

VCB Product Development Manager Nancy MacPhee reported there are 23 beach and shoreline project funding requests for the fiscal year 2019-2020, which total $10.2 million. Among them are requests by the City of Sanibel for a beach and shoreline erosion survey, facility beach maintenance, shoreline stabilization at Turner Beach Park and changing room rehab at Bowman’s Beach Park.

In addition, the ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Society is requesting $47,000 for an ADA kayak and canoe launch system and kiosk. All of the funding requests are being reviewed by the TDC in preparation for the annual Beach & Shoreline workshop on April 25.

The next TDC meeting will be at 9 a.m. Friday, May 10, in conference room 118, at the Lee County Admin East building, 2201 Second St., Fort Myers.