The Naples Daily News editorial board has wrapped up its interviews with candidates whose names will be on the Aug. 24 primary ballots in Lee and Collier counties.
The question-and-answer sessions can all be viewed or heard (two were telephone interviews captured on audio recorders) at www.naplesnews.com/election.
The 30-minute interviews, scheduled as part of our newspaper’s candidate endorsement process, are new for us. In past years, the editorial board conducted the interviews with the caveat that everything said was on the record, but there was no video camera capturing the conversation. This election year there was.
We aren’t sure how many readers will view the videos, but even if the number is low, we plan to continue capturing the sessions on video in the future. We know we will meet with candidates prior to each election, so — we have decided — why not flip on a video camera?
Our endorsements, based partly on the interviews and partly on what board members have gleaned from news stories and candidate forums, began Friday and will continue daily through Aug. 8, concluding with the editorial board’s recommendation for the Collier and Lee county commission races.
Early voting begins Aug. 9.
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Quick quiz: Where do most of Southwest Florida’s foreign tourists hail from?
C. United Kingdom
If you answered “A,” you would be right, according to statistics from the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau.
In 2009, the top country of origin for those staying in paid accommodations in Lee County was Germany, with Canada and Great Britain tied for second. Fourth on the list was “Benelux,” meaning the region of Western Europe that includes Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg.
In Collier County, 11 percent of the visitors in 2009 came from Europe with 2.4 percent from Canada, according to the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Most of Collier County’s non-foreign visitors come from — in order — Florida (33.5 percent), the Northeast (23.2 percent), Midwest (18.2 percent) and the Southeast (6.8 percent).
Lee County’s domestic tourism numbers are a bit different.
The Midwest was the undisputed leader in 2009 with 42 percent. Florida and the rest of the “South” was second with 27 percent, followed by the Northeast with 23 percent and the West with 3 percent.
If you break the Lee County numbers down by city, it’s a tie between the Big Apple and Indy.
Here are the U.S. city rankings with the percentage, courtesy of the Lee County Visitor’s Bureau:
* New York, 6 percent
* Indianapolis, 6 percent
* Boston, 5 percent
* Chicago, 4 percent
* Miami-Fort Lauderdale, 4 percent
* Tampa-St. Petersburg, 4 percent
* Detroit, 4 percent
* Minneapolis-St. Paul, 3 percent
* Philadelphia, 3 percent
* Cincinnati, 3 percent
The breakdowns are more than just interesting statistics.
The tourist bureaus want to get the word out to potential visitors that Southwest Florida beaches are clean and oil-free — and should remain so. (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there is only a 1 percent chance of oil fouling beaches this far south on the Gulf Coast.)
The numbers provide a map on where to direct the marketing dollars.
Lewis is editor of the Daily News. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org