Tourism in southwest Florida was dealt a major blow when Hurricane Ian made landfall on September 28, as a Category 4 storm devastated the area from Naples to Fort Myers to Port Charlotte to Sarasota.

Economic recovery efforts are now heating up as the region along Florida’s Gulf Coast – famous for its beautiful, tranquil beaches, boating, marine life and more – looks to make headway into one of the biggest economic engines. Tourism is huge in SWFL, as “Snowbird season” begins later this month—the time of year when vacationers and part-time residents from cold northern climates flock to the area for months at a time—not to mention spring training for Major League baseball begins. In February followed by spring break.

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To this end, there were several benefits planned to help return. Recording company BMI and iHeartMedia Fort Myers host songwriters for southwest Florida on Wednesday, November 2. The event is a relief event at the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest benefiting Lee County hospitality workers. The concert will be hosted by BMI songwriters who have performed at the festival since its inception. The party will be hosted in Nashville, and will also be available via Livestream.

All proceeds will benefit the Fort Myers Hospitality Workers Relief Fund.

For those seeking to support and donate to local people who have been displaced and affected by Hurricane Ian, you can make a donation to the Fort Myers Hospitality Workers Relief Fund. All donations will be distributed to hospitality workers in Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel & Captiva Islands, Pine Island, Matlacha, Boca Grande, Outer Islands, Fort Myers, North Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Alva, Buckingham and Lehigh Acre.

Tourism in Lee County, including the Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Fort Myers, and Fort Myers Beach, has been in huge numbers for the past three years. Visitors took in $42 million in 2019, the last year before the pandemic, and that rose to $53.3 million in 2021 and to $64 million in the first eight months of this year, according to Fox4 News Fort Myers.

But county tourism officials conceded that the last three months of the year will be a virtual bleaching off as beaches need repair and hotels need repair or refurbishment.

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