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Rotary Happenings: Rotary reinstates Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust fundraiser
September 12, 2018

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Sanibel-Captiva Rotary President, John Danner, has used our Rotary International President, Barry Rassin's motto "Be the Inspiration" to open our Friday morning meetings each week by featuring his own inspirational provocateurs. This week it was Senator, John McCain's final letter to America. Here is an excerpt from that letter, "We are 325 million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country, we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before, we always do."

Many things can inspire a person or organization to accept a challenge; challenges that sometime seem out of reach. Rotary took on the challenge to rid the world of polio and has reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent worldwide. Rotary, also, has an interest in providing significant funding for Alzheimer's disease research making it a focus for many clubs here in North America. The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary participated in fundraising for the Alzheimer's Research Trust a few year's ago by partaking in their CART (Coins for Alzheimer's Research Trust) fundraising effort and did so successfully. The club is now reinstating our CART fundraising effort led by Rotarian, Eldon Bohrofen. At this time, CART will be an internal fundraising effort for club Rotarians and friends. Donations will be collected each week for Alzheimer's research during our Happy Bucks meeting segment. Eldon got the donations rolling with a gift of $1,000 and a match challenge for an additional $1,000. Club members responded to the challenge and the club is off to a great start, it won't be very long before we meet his $1,000 challenge.

Challenges come in many forms, just ask our guest speaker, last Friday morning, Tamara Pigott, Executive Director of Lee County Convention & Visitors Bureau. The VCB serves the broader interests of the economy of Lee County by acting as a marketing, sales, and services organization. Their mission is multifaceted: promote our destination globally, support tourism industry development, assist with preserving and protecting the area's unique attributes, and activate the community in support of tourism. By identifying and showcasing what makes the area special and different from all other sun and sand destinations, VCB sales, marketing, media relations, and visitor services work together to deliver distinct and meaningful messaging to the traveling public to inspire and convince them to choose Lee County as their destination for vacations, meetings, and group events.

Tammy brought to our attention right away that the VCB works 4 months in advance of each season for marketing our destination. The current red tide and green algae problems will change their approach to marketing slightly for now for the upcoming season and marketing will but more focus on the best of what is great about Lee County. The beautiful drone shots of the beaches will be saved for future marketing campaigns and replaced with short action focused videos and print ads. Attention on things like outdoor adventures along the extensive bike paths of Sanibel; birding and Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge; visits to Matlacha, Captiva, and Fort Myers Beach with their quirky art vibe and tropical restaurant scene; the Edison and Ford Winter House and downtown river district nightlife, our counties bountiful golf and tennis facilities and spring season baseball and sporting events.

The value of tourism in Lee County is immense. Numbers for 2017Visitors to Lee County is 4,797,394 Visitor Expenditures 3.1 billion dollars Tourist Tax Revenue 39.8 million dollars Jobs 58,632. Hurricane Irma weaken the numbers, but those numbers bounced back. Currently we are feeling the effects of our clean water crisis and this season the statistics will show a major dip in tourism dollars in the area reflexing lost tourism dollars for our beach communities.

Careful study and planning go into the marketing strategy to promote Lee County throughout the states and overseas. Statistic now indicate that the tourism strongest market for Lee County is the Mid-West for winter season and the Northeast in the spring, outside the states Canadians are no. #1 in winter and Germany in spring. On average, winter 2018 visitors stayed in Lee County for about 9 days. The majority indicated they came to Lee County for a vacation (85%), and two in five were visiting with friends or relatives (38%). Four-fifths of visitors were repeaters (82%), an increase over last winter (73%). These repeat visitors averaged five trips to Lee County in the past five years.

Good Luck, Tammythis year will be a challenge for the Lee County Convention and Tourism Bureau; let's hope Mother Nature will give us another chance and the powers that be, clean up their act businesses and residents of Lee County depend on you.

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary. The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are always welcome to attend.

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