Memorial Day metrics: Southwest Florida businesses, tourism gets a shot in the arm

Businesses, tourism gets a shot in the arm

Michel Fortier/Staff 
 If you consider Collier County a business, and Jack Wert, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), does; expect a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. Above, seasonal resident Dave Harmon relaxes on the beach at Delnor Wiggins State Park.

Photo by MICHEL FORTIER

Michel Fortier/Staff If you consider Collier County a business, and Jack Wert, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), does; expect a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. Above, seasonal resident Dave Harmon relaxes on the beach at Delnor Wiggins State Park.

Michel Fortier/Staff
You consider Collier County a business, and Jack Wert, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), does; expect a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. Above, Canton, Ohio residents Mike Hutcheson and his son, Owen Hucheson, 5, play paddle ball on the beach with friends at Delnor Wiggins State Park.

Photo by MICHEL FORTIER

Michel Fortier/Staff You consider Collier County a business, and Jack Wert, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), does; expect a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. Above, Canton, Ohio residents Mike Hutcheson and his son, Owen Hucheson, 5, play paddle ball on the beach with friends at Delnor Wiggins State Park.

Lisa Krantz/Staff
Jack Wert, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), expects a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. ìMemorial Day weekend is one of our top holiday weekends for visitation to the destination," he said. "We'll get families and couples coming here," many from feeder markets elsewhere within Florida. "Traditionally, the hotels are pretty close to full occupancy."

Photo by Lisa Krantz

Lisa Krantz/Staff Jack Wert, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), expects a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. ìMemorial Day weekend is one of our top holiday weekends for visitation to the destination," he said. "We'll get families and couples coming here," many from feeder markets elsewhere within Florida. "Traditionally, the hotels are pretty close to full occupancy."

Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent
"Memorial Day is a sellout, and it usually is," said Bob Pfeffer, sales and marketing director at the Marco Island Marriott. "We're excited that the demand is still there for leisure in Marco Island. It's a very solid weekend for us." Above, Pfeffer with his wife Sherrie at a recent Marriott reception.

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent "Memorial Day is a sellout, and it usually is," said Bob Pfeffer, sales and marketing director at the Marco Island Marriott. "We're excited that the demand is still there for leisure in Marco Island. It's a very solid weekend for us." Above, Pfeffer with his wife Sherrie at a recent Marriott reception.

Michel Fortier/Staff 
 If you consider Collier County a business, and Jack Wert, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), does; expect a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. Above, seasonal resident Dave Harmon relaxes on the beach at Delnor Wiggins State Park.

Photo by MICHEL FORTIER

Michel Fortier/Staff If you consider Collier County a business, and Jack Wert, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), does; expect a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. Above, seasonal resident Dave Harmon relaxes on the beach at Delnor Wiggins State Park.

File 
 Jack Wert does, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), expects a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. ìMemorial Day weekend is one of our top holiday weekends for visitation to the destination,î he said. ìWeíll get families and couples coming here,î many from feeder markets elsewhere within Florida. ìTraditionally, the hotels are pretty close to full occupancy.î

File Jack Wert does, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), expects a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. ìMemorial Day weekend is one of our top holiday weekends for visitation to the destination,î he said. ìWeíll get families and couples coming here,î many from feeder markets elsewhere within Florida. ìTraditionally, the hotels are pretty close to full occupancy.î

Tristan Spinski/Staff
If you consider Collier County a business, and Jack Wert, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), does; expect a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. Above, an aerial view of the Ritz-Carleton hotel and resort in Naples.

Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI

Tristan Spinski/Staff If you consider Collier County a business, and Jack Wert, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), does; expect a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. Above, an aerial view of the Ritz-Carleton hotel and resort in Naples.

For businesses in many categories, though, Memorial Day is a time for sales, for making the cash register ring. Nationally, Chevrolet is running a Memorial Day sales event. So are Best Buy, Macy's, the Home Depot, and Carnival Cruises. Online, buy.com is pushing special Memorial Day deals. In Naples, the Naples Outlet Center on Collier Blvd. has a Memorial Day sale, with deals at Ann Taylor Loft, Izod, Samsonite, Loft Outlet and Jones New York, among others.

If you consider Collier County a business, and Jack Wert does, expect a lot of business to be transacted over the Memorial Day weekend. Wert, executive director of the Collier County Tourist Development Council (TDC), is looking forward to full hotel rooms.

"Memorial Day weekend is one of our top holiday weekends for visitation to the destination," he said. "We'll get families and couples coming here," many from feeder markets elsewhere within Florida. "Traditionally, the hotels are pretty close to full occupancy."

Memorial Day marks a switch in local tourism, with northern visitors being supplanted by in-state and European guests. While Easter is often considered the end of the "season" locally, Wert said a distinction has to be drawn.

"The people that are leaving then are the seasonal residents, but the hotels stay full with short-term visitors," he said. "Coupled with a holiday weekend hitting at the end of the month, it helps extend our busy season."

The "shoulder season," said Wert, begins in June, when schools let out for the summer.

"That's when we see occupancy rates go down, and shorter booking times." The first three months of 2012, said Wert, all set records, both for number of visitors and dollars spent locally, and he expects the strong trend to continue.

"We're seeing spending up across the board, in restaurants, shopping and attractions, not just hotels," he said, "and advance indications are good," although the TDC tracks months rather than individual weekends.

At the Marco Island Marriott, sales and marketing director Bob Pfeffer agreed with Wert's prediction for a strong Memorial Day weekend.

"Memorial Day is a sellout, and it usually is," said Pfeffer. "We're excited that the demand is still there for leisure in Marco Island. It's a very solid weekend for us." Noting that July 4th falls in the middle of the week this year, he said the hotel would be offering special deals for locals to entice them to the beach.

In Naples, Lou Vlasho, president of the Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District, also was looking forward to a strong commercial holiday period.

"Every holiday makes a difference," he said. "This is the time of year when the locals start to come out," after the busy tourist season. Plus, he said, the area benefits from its status as a vacation destination.

"We get visitors from everywhere in Florida, primarily the east coast, because we're in easy driving distance. It's great to see that gas prices are coming down."

Al Greenwood, owner of the Buffalo Chips restaurant in Bonita Springs, said he does not anticipate any upturn in business over Memorial Day.

"People go to the beach, or they go to grandma's," he said. "It's not a big restaurant day. I don't see we'll see any effect."

But attorney Jim Dati of Bond, Schoeneck & King, chairman of the Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce, said many local businesses will be busy.

"First of all, I hope everyone takes the time to remember the men and women who gave their lives, what the day is all about," he said. "I think we're going to see increased business. There seems to be a sense of that. Most folks are reporting they had a pretty good season, and this could be the kickoff to a strong summer."

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