May 20, 2016 | Categories: Other
Mirriam-Webster defines tourism as “the activity of traveling to a place for pleasure” or “the business of providing hotels, restaurants, entertainment, enjoyment, conveniences, etc., for people who are traveling.” Regardless of our trade, we are all in the business of tourism by virtue of our presence in the paradise we call home.
I am certain that we would all agree that the positive aspects of a robust tourism industry far outweighs just the revenues provided to lodging, foodservice, and attractions. Bed taxes, which are produced by paid lodging, provide us resources to attract Spring Training, maintain our parks, beaches, and so much more that we as citizens use frequently. Hospitality jobs account for 1 in 5 county wide, and last but not least a large percentage of our visitors eventually purchase homes in Lee County for part time residency.
As a resident of Lee County for 30 years, I know that it’s easy to take for granted the natural resources that can be found in our own back yard. There are millions of people who travel to our county annually to experience our 500 miles of shoreline, 47 miles of white sandy beaches which provide 105 beach and bay accesses and 18 beach park facilities. While visiting they can take in a Spring Training game, eat great food, participate in amateur sports, enjoy the diverse history and arts, or shop at one of our amazing retail centers. When considering “the activity of traveling to a place for pleasure” it is certainly easy to see why so many people choose Lee County.
The second definition of tourism gives us all ownership in the success that we celebrate on a local level. You may not provide food, lodging, or even entertainment, but every one of us has the ability to impact tourism by the way that we treat people who we interact with daily. I call it affecting the “enjoyment factor” of someone’s day. Do you allow cars to merge into your lanes? Do you smile at strangers who appear lost and ask if they need help? Do we see “people” as opposed to just “customers?” With as many visitors as we have in Southwest Florida, every interaction that we have with a stranger has the opportunity to impact that person’s day. If they are a tourist, you’ve just had an impact on tourism. If they are a resident, you’ve just helped their day become better (which could be considered its own reward), and in turn could affect the way they treat a visitor. I could get into the specifics of how being kind to each other increases our own “enjoyment factor” but I’d likely exceed my word count for this document.
I know, I know…traffic can be an inconvenience. Waiting for a table at your favorite restaurant can be a nuisance. Not being able to find a parking spot at your favorite beach spot can be a bummer. Next time you experience any of these, remember…it’s a good thing.
We live in paradise, and that, is a great thing.
Inns of Sanibel/LCHA
937 East Gulf Drive, Sanibel, FL 33957