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Lee County Sports announces record for room nights booked

By Staff | Feb 28, 2019

Lee County hosted 158 amateur sporting events in 2018, generating its highest year on record in terms of hotel room nights sold. The events generated $72.2 million in direct visitor spending, a $6.3 million increase from 2017.

At the Tourist Development Council meeting earlier this month, Lee County Sports Development highlighted:

– Hotel Room Nights Sold – 163,546

– Sports Tourism Visitors – 169,761

– Increased number of annual events – from 144 to 158

The 2018 numbers reflect amateur sports only. The numbers do not include spring training impacts for the Boston Red Sox or Minnesota Twins, the Fort Myers Miracle minor league baseball or the Florida Everblades minor league hockey.

“The record-setting year says a lot about Lee County,” Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, who chairs the Tourist Development Council, said. “We have outstanding facilities that are well-maintained, and our destination is a place families like to visit. Many vacations are planned to coincide with these sporting events.”

Sports event organizers provide positive feedback to Lee County Sports Development, the county government department charged with attracting amateur sports tourism.

“We offer excellent customer service through various Lee County departments, including Parks & Recreation, as well as through other key partner organizations,” Lee County Sports Development Executive Director Jeff Mielke said.

Studies show that as a sports tourism destination, many of the attendees have an interest in visiting again in future years. It is not just the visitors that keep coming back. Mielke said Lee County has more than a 90 percent retention rate for events. USA Figure Skating is anticipated to return in 2021 and the North American Roller Hockey Championships are slated to return in 2020.

A variety of events brought sports visitors to Lee County in 2018, including the USA Figure Skating Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectionals, Florida Bowling Pepsi Youth Championships and Fort Myers Tip Off college basketball tournament. Looking at 2019, the Hobie 16 World Championships will be one of several new events that Lee County will host.