It’s that time of year again, everyone. The time of year right after the holidays. I’m referring to what most Floridians call peak season. Peak season is approximately the middle of January until about the middle of April or the week of Easter. Every year it varies slightly.
It’s the time when our population surges to its highest level of the year. When out-of-state license plates become the norm on our roads. It’s when our seasonal residents, named snowbirds, flock to Florida.
Some locals don’t care for the influx of visitors, but all of us in the business community and tourism industry welcome our snowbirds and tourists with open arms. They contribute greatly to our economy and our tax base. Many snowbirds start off as renters and eventually become homeowners. Some get tired of maintaining two households to become full-time Floridians.
In addition to our snowbirds, this is the time of year when tourists flood into Florida for our warm winters, beautiful beaches, golf, fishing and theme parks. They fill our hotels, restaurants and roads as they visit the many tourist destinations we have to offer throughout this beautiful state.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has changed our peak season this year. We’re missing most of our Canadian snowbirds this year due to restrictions in Canada. I’ve also read reports that many European tourists will not be visiting the U.S. this year due to restrictions or concerns with the rapid spread of the virus in our state and country.
A new trend that is helping make up for the deficit of foreign visitors is the influx of renters and home buyers who are remote workers. We’ve been hearing many reports of this new trend being a win for Florida and our region. Corporate America is rethinking its strategy of large offices in metro areas to offer remote worker status, provided the productivity doesn’t suffer. Our technological advances in software, communications and internet access has made this possible. COVID-19 sped up that migration to remote working for many businesses. Southwest Florida appears to be a benefactor of this new migration from what I’m hearing from builders, Realtors and reporting.
Another trend I’ve noticed over the past decade is where snowbirds come from. When I moved here 23 years ago almost every snowbird came from the upper Midwest, but now we’re seeing more and more coming from the Northeast. Years ago the Northeastern snowbirds migrated to the East Coast of Florida via I-95 and the Midwest snowbirds traveled down I-75 to Florida’s West Coast. I’m speculating that the overpopulation of Florida’s East Coast has driven many to consider the quieter West Coast and word spread. I remember when it was a rare sight to see a license plate from the Northeast in our area. As you know, that’s no longer the case.
No matter where growth comes from, we’re growing very rapidly right now. The pandemic didn’t slow it down. Our slice of paradise is no longer a secret.
I’ve heard many people over the years demand that we slow down the growth. Our local governments do not have a lot of power to make that happen in the state of Florida. Property owner rights take precedence in this state.
This season may not look like last year, but we’ll take it any way we get it. I’m just happy to see people out and about safely during this elongated pandemic. Our businesses are going to need our support this year with our season having fewer visitors than most years. That’s why The Daily Sun and Venice Gondolier will continue to donate ad space for our shop local campaigns in partnership with all of our local chambers.
Stay safe and enjoy this beautiful winter in Southwest Florida everyone!