Florida Tourism Industry Responds to Hurricane Ian

Hotels and the state's tourism marketing corporation have rallied to support the communities impacted by the storm.

Visit Florida aims to promote tourism to destinations like Miami that were spared from the storm. Photo Credit: littleny for Adobe Stock

Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, five Florida hotels held a fundraiser to support storm victims. More than $12,000 was raised for the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida by the Epicurean Hotel in Tampa, the Fenway Hotel in Dunedin, the Karol Hotel in Clearwater, the Residence Inn Tampa Wesley Chapel and Luminary Hotel & Co. in Fort Myers, all of which are Mainsail Lodging and Development properties, during "Raise the Roof for Hurricane Ian Relief" on their rooftop bars.

Team members from Luminary Hotel & Co. in downtown Fort Myers presented the check to Harry Chapin Food Bank.

"It came together fast, but we wanted to give our guests and neighbors a way to quickly and directly help those affected by Hurricane Ian," said Joe Collier, president and founder of Mainsail. "It was great to see so many come out to support the cause and help rally behind the Southwest Florida community."

"The outpouring of support coming from our Gulf Coast neighbors has been tremendous," said Richard LeBer, CEO of food bank. "We are pouring our hearts into feeding those affected by Hurricane Ian."

The Luminary Hotel also held a community rally where 300 food kits were distributed, 800 hot lunches were served, and families could meet with nonprofit organizations and FEMA for assistance.

For its part, Visit Florida has created a campaign to promote tourism to the unaffected areas of the state. Roughly $2.7 million has been put toward the initial campaign launch, which will run on digital and social platforms in major U.S. markets through the end of the month to entice visitors back to the Sunshine State.

"Tourism is Florida's top economic driver and Visit Florida is committed to safeguarding our industry," said Dana Young, president and CEO of Visit Florida. "We appreciate Governor DeSantis' leadership and support as we launch this innovative new campaign and invite visitors from around the world to our great state." 

The official tourism marketing corporation for Florida is also committed to supporting the communities in the Southwest section of the state that were impacted the most, such as Fort Myers and Sanibel Island. A recovery package for these areas will be developed in coordination with their local tourism leadership, which will be distributed when the areas have reopened for business. 

Travelers contribute billions of dollars annually to the state's economy and Visit Florida's post-storm marketing efforts will ensure that the industry remains strong ahead of the winter travel season.

"Tourism makes a positive impact on every area in Florida, and all Floridians depend on the revenue and jobs it generates," said John Lai, general manager of the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, and a board chair for Visit Florida. "[This] new marketing plan will help amplify the message that we are still open for business, and that we stand prepared to help our Southwest Florida partners as soon as they are ready."