Skip to main content

For the best viewing, please click here

From 2021 Island Hopper Songwriter Fest: Singer-songwriter Leighton Fields gives a strolling performance down Andy Rosse Lane on Captiva Island. Photo by Brian Tietz

Songs from the Sand

The Sanibel Captiva Guide Podcast

So far, so good and we’ll see you at Island Hopper
While we know September is typically a challenging month for our local hospitality and tourism partners, we also know how good this year has been.
Our fiscal year-to-date – the total collections for last year – tourist tax collections for June show that we are 31% ahead of last year. We have already exceeded last year, so it’s safe to say we are on our way to a record year.
Island Hopper Songwriter Fest
We have much to look forward to this month, including the 8th Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, Sept. 16-25. This signature event, created by the VCB, was first held in 2014 in an effort to bring visitors to the destination during the slowest time of the year.

Island Hopper has grown in popularity and now brings repeat visitors to hear more than 70 singer-songwriters perform more than 100 shows and share their stories behind the songs. Most shows are free, with the exception of a few ticketed experiences.

The 10-day Island Hopper music festival features performances by some of the country’s greatest BMI singer-songwriters. The first weekend kicks off on Captiva Island, Sept. 16-18, then moves to downtown Fort Myers, Sept. 19-22, and ends with a weekend on Fort Myers Beach, Sept. 23-25.

Gary LeVox, frontman for Rascal Flatts, is the headline songwriter/performer and is scheduled to perform at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, poolside at the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina on Fort Myers Beach. Tickets for the event are available on the Island Hopper app – iOS and Android – or

Be sure to download the app to be entered for a chance to win a two-night stay at Pink Shell during the final weekend of Island Hopper, tickets to the LeVox concert and a $200 gift card.

Governor’s Conference
We look forward to seeing you and our friends from other in-state destinations at the upcoming Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Aug. 31-Sept. 2 in Boca Raton. This VISIT FLORIDA event is always a great opportunity to make new connections and catch up with other tourism industry professionals, advertising agencies, travel experts and state leaders to explore the latest trends and opportunities for the industry.

Save the dates
Please join us Thursday, Sept. 8, to celebrate nominees of the 2022 E Awards. The Elaine McLaughlin Outstanding Hospitality Service Awards recognize our local tourism industry colleagues for their extraordinary customer service and professionalism. The E Awards are set for 8-11 a.m. Sept. 8 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa. Visit or call 239-590-4855.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, we would like you be part of our Key Data Dashboard Webinar at 10 a.m. Key Data provides Lee County vacation rental data and insights sourced directly from area property managers and resorts through real-time, reservation system data feeds. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about this process and gain insight into the latest vacation rental data.

And, please join us again Thursday, Nov. 10, for the Tourism Outlook Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point. We’ll be sharing results and highlights from 2022 and revealing our new 2022-23 sales and marketing plans.

Multiple-Emmy award winner Peter Greenberg will be our very special guest and keynote speaker. Known in the travel industry as “The Travel Detective,” Greenberg is the travel editor for CBS News and appears frequently on “CBS This Morning.” Registration will open closer to the event date.
Have a great September and we look forward to seeing you at Island Hopper. Thank you for all you do to make the destination great.

Executive Director

Bryelle Benzing,
marketing manager

Tiffany Gobert,
fiscal officer



Vanessa Gomez,
marketing intern

Paulina Seminara,
communications intern



In the news
• RSW July traffic report
• Cape Coral’s Cultural Park Theater celebrates 60th anniversary with massive makeover
• Fort Myers downtown hotel development granted one-year extension
• Lee Commissioners award contract for new shade structures at 10 Parks & Recreation facilities
• Possible boat ramp coming to Riverside Community Center in Fort Myers
• Darden plans 4 new restaurants in Collier, Lee counties
• Planning begins for Bonita Springs Banyan Tree Square

Updates from the Performance Dashboard
The VCB’s new Industry Insights Dashboard provides our partners with the latest Lee County-specific travel data. Partners can use this information to make informed marketing decisions, resource planning, revenue forecasting and more.

This month’s insights:
• Top out-of-state markets for July were Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Cleveland. We saw a shift in markets as Indianapolis was a top out-of-state origin market in June but was overtaken by Cincinnati in July. Total trips increased from 294,506 in June to 362,217 in July. Source: Arrivalist’s dashboards and insights, comparing trips per month and top origin markets
• Average booking lead times for flights decreased by 2% month over month, sitting at 53 days for July travel, while hotel booking windows were flat with a lead time of 56 days for both June and July. As we move from summer to fall months, hotel lead times seem to decrease compared to early summer months. For August, we can expect hotel booking lead times to increase by seven days based on data from pre-pandemic and last year.
Source: Sojern Average Lead Time in Days, Flights and Hotels data
• For July vacation rentals, we saw an increase in ADR by 9% and a decrease of 15% in occupancy rate when compared to July 2021.
Source: KeyData
• Hotel occupancy was down slightly at the beginning of July and rebounded the last two weeks of the month, aligning with July 2021 hotel occupancy rates. Hotel ADR was up an average of 5% in July.
Source: STR – weekly reports for July

Hurricane preparedness resources

Lee County’s All Hazards Guide is a great resource to help prepare your family and loved ones on how to stay safe during an emergency. It’s packed with useful information about emergency supplies, evacuation plans and ways to stay safe. Click on the image to get your copy.
Click the links below to watch helpful videos with practical advice on family safety during an emergency.

Videos: Determine your risk

Develop an Evacuation Plan


Try the Fort Myers Discovery Challenge today

Explore Fort Myers and surrounding areas to discover the arts and cultural attractions that make our islands, beaches and neighborhoods naturally unique. Embark on a guided tour of the Mound House that overlooks Estero Bay or walk the Calusa Heritage Trail on Pine Island. From our nationally recognized shell museum on Sanibel Island to the funky art galleries of Matlacha, there are so many ways to have a good day. Using your phone, check in to each location and you could find exclusive savings and deals.
The challenge ends December 20, 2022!

Sales activities

Rotating photos include:
• (Photo 1) July 11-15: Denver travel agency sales calls, AAA travel advisor in Colorado Springs to whom Holly Morris, Florida Travel Marketing (FTM), promoted our destination.
• (Photo 2) July 20-22: FSAE Annual Conference, From left: Sandra Keneven, Westin Cape Coral Resort; Erin Lester, VCB; Grant Hart, Luminary Hotel & Co., at a meeting planner networking event in Tampa with over 360 attendees. It was announced that the Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods is the host destination for this conference in 2023 and will be held at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa.
• (Photo 3) July 25-29: Philadelphia travel agency sales calls, From left: Glenside travel advisor, Diane, with Holly Morris, FTM, discussing the destination on our greater Philadelphia sales calls.
• (Photo 4) July 27-29: Smart Meetings Northeast Regional Show & Boston client event, From left: Betsy Bush, VCB, with Sandra Keneven, Westin Cape Coral Resort, preparing to host a client event for area Boston meeting planners before attending the Smart Meetings Northeast meeting planner show.

Upcoming sales events


Aug. 4: Margaritaville Resort Fort Myers Beach media tour: Juliana Silva, VCB; David Cesario, Margaritaville Resort FMB general manager; Charm Evans, VCB; Samantha Ballin, NJF; Noreen Kompanik, TravelPulse; Jennifer Thomas, Meetings Today; Ray Sarracino, VCB; Dee Anne Osborne, Margaritaville Resort FMB.

Aug. 5: Coming Attractions FAM: Samantha Ballin, NJF; Noreen Kompanik, TravelPulse; Jennifer Thomas, Meetings Today; Alexandria Edwards, Edison and Ford Winter Estates.

Aug. 8: Fine Folk Pizza wins a “GEMmy” award: Todd Wessell, Midwest Travel Journalists Association (MTJA); Mike and Brie DeNunzio, Fine Folk Pizza owners; Lois Croft, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. Fine Folk Pizza received a “GEMmy” award from MTJA in recognition of the restaurant being an exceptional travel experience.

Aug. 24: German press tour at the Bubble Room: From left: VCB Communications Manager Miriam Dotson, left, with Lina, Sandra and Michael Schmidt. The Schmidt family produce the “One Million Places” travel web site focusing on family travel.

Public relations/communications earned media results

Celebrate outstanding hospitality with us

You are invited to join the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau in celebrating the 2022 Elaine McLaughlin Outstanding Hospitality Service Awards (the E Awards). Show your support for our nominees who will be recognized for their extraordinary customer service and professionalism.
The E Awards will be held on Thursday, Sept. 8, at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa. Breakfast begins at 8 a.m. and the awards ceremony will begin at 9 a.m.
Please RSVP at or by calling 239-590-4855. Nominees attend as our guests. Supporters are $25 per person.
E Awards
When: 8-11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 8
Where: Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, 5001 Coconut Road, Bonita Springs

2022 TDC meeting schedule


















2201 Second Street, Suite 600
Fort Myers, Florida 33901
Toll Free 800.237.6444 | Local 239.338.3500

Copyright © 2022 Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau
Our address is 2201 Second Street, Suite 600, Fort Myers, FL 33901, USA

‹‹ Previous Post
Iron Ridge Insurance Services adds Executive Risk Manager/Client Advisor
All Posts Next Post ››
Big Cypress Basin Using New Technology to Manage Canals and Protect Naples Bay