Visitation was up in Lee County in March.
The county saw more than 592,000 visitors in that month. About 286,000 of them stayed in hotels and other vacation rentals, while about 306,000 of them roomed with friends or relatives, according to a monthly report by Davidson-Peterson Associates, a county consultant.
The number of visitors staying with friends and relatives rose nearly 19 percent, driving much of the increase in tourism.
Occupancy rates were up at hotels and other vacation rentals and the overall average daily rate grew 5.2 percent to $169.76 year-over-year.
For the year, visitation is up 2.8 percent in the county. However, the number of visitors staying in hotels and other paid rentals is slightly down.
Most of the county's visitors in March were from the U.S., with more than 60 percent of them coming from the Midwest. Spring training helped lure visitors from Minneapolis and Boston, the two cities with teams training in Lee County.
Most of the international visitors in March came from Canada and Germany.
About 75 percent of the county's visitors arrived by plane in March – up from about 63 percent a year ago. Nearly 90 percent used Southwest Florida International Airport.
The county's visitors spent nearly $432 million in March, up about 2.7 percent from a year ago.