By the BF Staff
From the May/June 2017 Issue
Travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest industries. And while concerns have risen pertaining to recent travel bans, you do not necessarily need to fly to arrive at your destination. But whether you decide to take a boat, plane, train or automobile, one thing is for sure—you will never be short of options.
Trading Economics reports international tourist arrivals in the U.S. averaged 4,202,972.83 from 1996 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 8,364,940 in August of 2014. It also found that the U.S. travel and tourism industry contributed nearly $1.6 trillion to the economy in 2015, or 2.6 percent of its GDP. Travel and tourism exports accounted for 11 percent of all U.S. exports and 33 percent of all U.S. services exports—positioning travel and tourism as the nation’s largest services export.
According to the U.S. Travel Associations’ Economic Review of Travel in America (ERTIA), 2016 edition, in the United States alone, domestic and international traveler expenditures reached $947 billion in 2016 and tax revenue from travel spending for federal, state and local governments totaled $148 billion in 2015.
So whether you visit a popular tourist destination like the Grand Canyon, New York City, Las Vegas or Walt Disney World or seek a lower profile setting for rest and relaxation or high adventure, at some point you will need or want to eat, sleep, shop and sightsee. Be it skiing in Colorado, fishing in Alaska, hiking in the Adirondacks or laying on a Florida beach, money most likely will be spent on transportation, lodging, amusement/ recreation, retail and food.
Happy tourists mean more tourists. The more tourists, the more jobs and the more tax revenue. Keep reading for a selection of happy tourist destinations.
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, FL: WHERE BUSINESS AND PLEASURE MEET
Indian River County—Vero Beach, Sebastian and Fellsmere—strikes a perfect balance between business and pleasure. It offers a market that meets all your business needs, yet provides you, your family and your employees an unparalleled quality of life—a small town ambiance with a cosmopolitan flair. It is a place where your work and lifestyle are compatible in a stimulating and productive environment.
Located an hour north of West Palm Beach and 90 miles southeast of Orlando, Indian River County is within three hours of 18 million consumers, or 90 percent of Florida’s population, with easy access to markets and far from urban sprawl, traffic and congestion.
The area is rich in history and natural resources, including wildlife reserves and scenic lakes, with the benefits of climate for which the Sunshine State is famous. It is also the center of the world-famous Indian River Citrus District.
Surrounded by miles of pristine beaches, ranches and citrus groves, Indian River County’s superb quality of life has attracted innovative businesses and talented professionals from around the country and around the world. Offshore, the waters of the Gulf Stream ensure year-round mild temperatures, warm in winter and breezy in summer so you can golf and boat 365 days a year. Twenty-three miles of golden beaches, azure waters of the Indian and Sebastian Rivers and lush farm and woodlands blend to characterize this beautiful area “where the tropics begin.”
Indian River County’s allure as a light industrial site is best demonstrated by the fact that many companies have chosen this location because of the positive vacation experience of their C-level executives. Companies are attracted to the county because of its relatively low land and labor costs, the absence of a state income tax and competitive property tax rates. Tax abatements and the Local Jobs Grant program encourage eligible new and existing firms to add new jobs for local residents.
Advanced industries from aviation and emerging technology firms to specialty healthcare all benefit from a low cost of doing business; a large, well-trained workforce; and some of the lowest taxes in the nation. With convenient access to highways, rail and ports, along with large tracts of buildable land, many transportation and distribution companies have chosen to locate in the county.
Indian River County has two general aviation airports, Vero Beach and Sebastian, and is located minutes from Melbourne International Airport. Vero Beach Regional Airport now offers non-stop flights to Newark.
Indian River County offers many cultural and entertainment venues comparable to communities much larger in size. Art galleries and studios, professional and community theatres, the highly regarded 33-piece Atlantic Classical Orchestra, and the state’s only teaching museum have all put Indian River County on Florida’s cultural map.
Vero Beach, the county seat, has long been a popular resort area, attracting thousands to the array of recreational and entertainment pursuits it offers. Sebastian, in the northern part of the county, is home to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge—the first of its kind in the U.S. The city also offers one of the most spectacular skydiving venues in the world, and is ideal for surfing with several major competitions held annually.
An available and trainable workforce of approximately 638,000 within an hour’s drive time makes Indian River County a highly desirable location. Indian River State College (IRSC) is nationally recognized for its innovative curriculum and close working relationship with the business community, filling the training needs of industry, and preparing the next generation of workers.
An efficient infrastructure system was the reason cited by CVS/Pharmacy to locate its 400,000-square-foot distribution center in Indian River County. This central location along I-95, plus the cooperation of local government and private sector leadership, made Indian River County the best site geographically and economically. The primary north-south transportation route through Indian River County is I-95. State Road 60 is the main east-west arterial between Vero Beach and the Tampa Bay area on Florida’s west coast, with Florida’s Turnpike just 29 miles to the west.
A paradise for surfing, fishing, golfing, boating, shopping, dining, bird-watching, kayaking and long walks on the beach, Indian River County has it all—a location central to the success of your business while enjoying a relaxed lifestyle. For more information, visit www.indianrivered.com, or call the Indian River Chamber of Commerce at (772) 567-3491.
CAPE CORAL…NATURALLY ENCHANTING
Whether you’re pedaling or paddling, motor-trolling or strolling, follow your bliss in a paradise surrounded by diverse aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
Since it was founded, Cape Coral, Florida, has been known as a “waterfront wonderland.” If you love paddling, fishing, boating, strolling or taking nature photos, you’ve come to the right place. The Gulf of Mexico, Caloosahatchee River and Pine Island Sound wrap the Cape, which is crisscrossed by 400 miles of canals.
Whether you come for a weekend or for a couple weeks each year, you won’t be far from white-sand beaches, refreshing Gulf breezes, nature parks, golf courses, bike paths and other amenities that trick full-time residents into believing they’re always on vacation. Find out why they call it paradise.
Walk on the Wild Side
Cape Coral is home to abundant wildlife, in the air and sea and on land. In fact, Cape Coral has the largest Florida burrowing owl population with 2,500 documented burrows. It is not uncommon to see these yellow-eyed, pint-sized residents standing outside of their underground dwellings year-round because they do not migrate. They are protected under state and federal law, and were made famous in Carl Hiasson’s “Hoot.” Burrowing owls are joined by a range of avian neighbors: ibis and egrets, hawks, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, American kestrels, terns, sandpipers, woodpeckers and many, many more.
In Cape Coral’s waterways, expect to see dolphins and manatees, along with a rich variety of fish. The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin is common, and many of them live here full-time. These curious creatures can be seen from the shore, playing in boat wake or occasionally cruising the Cape’s canals. Manatees are gentle, air-breathing mammals referred to as “sea cows.” They can grow up to 13 feet and 3,000 pounds but are docile vegetarians. Because they are susceptible to cold, manatees, protected under state and federal law, congregate in warm water during cold snaps.
On land, you may see a gopher tortoise, a terrestrial reptile which lives underground in extensive networks of burrows. Gopher tortoises are a protected species with high-domed shells—and unlike their marine cousins, they aren’t swimmers. A rather iconic creature that straddles land and water is the American alligator. Many Cape Coral residents can go for years without seeing one in the city, although alligators thrive in Southwest Florida. Also a protected species, alligators prefer fresh and brackish water—coming onto the land to lay their nest and warm in the sun.
Do you like bocce, horseshoes, bicycling, swimming or flying drones and remote-control airplanes? Or maybe bird watching? Wherever your passions lead, you are sure to find it in Cape Coral. The award-winning Parks and Recreation Department manages nearly 40 facilities, including a golf course, beach, nature parks, marinas and athletic complexes—all for city residents and visitors to enjoy. Select highlights include:
Rotary Park Environmental Center: This 97-acre preserve showcases salt marsh and upland ecosystems, and is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. Amenities include a native plant garden, butterfly house, playground, nature trails, wheelchair-accessible boardwalk leading to an observation tower, bike path and dog park. It is home to the annual Burrowing Owl Festival each February.
Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve & Kayak Shack: Stroll the trail and boardwalk to the Caloosahatchee River at this 365-acre wetland preserve. Learn more about the region’s ecosystems at the visitor center. Pay tribute to those who’ve served in the U.S. armed forces at the Veterans Memorial, featuring a replica of the Iwo Jima Memorial. From November through May, weekend kayak rentals are available at the Kayak Shack.
Bernice Braden Park: This 10-acre linear park at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge offers spectacular views of the Caloosahatchee River and is a great place to enjoy the serenity of the environment, go fishing or picnic.
Jaycee Park: Located along the Caloosahatchee, this popular park hosts various festivals and events. With a walking trail, gazebo, picnic areas, fitness stations and playground, it’s a popular place to have a birthday party or simply relax.
Yacht Club Community Park: One of the city’s original landmarks, this community centerpiece includes a beach, swimming pool, marina, boat ramp, tennis and racquetball courts, fishing pier, picnic area and playground.
Four Freedoms Park: This waterfront park overlooking Bimini Basin includes a beach for sunbathing, playground, picnic area and multipurpose facility.
Sirenia Vista: This 8-acre waterfront park in northwest Cape is a great place to see manatees in the winter, and a kayak launch provides access to the Great Calusa Blueway.
Cycling enthusiasts, take note: Cape Coral has been named a Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists and earned the Bicycle Friendly Community of the Year Award from the Florida Bicycle Association. There are 90 miles of interconnected routes, distinctly marked with informational maps and kiosks, bordering nature preserves, scenic canals, golf courses and the Caloosahatchee River. A 49-mile circular route runs the city’s perimeter.
Cape Coral—the largest city between Tampa and Miami— is home to the public, 18-hole Coral Oaks Golf Course. This Arthur Hills designed, championship course with contoured fairways is set into a majestic, century-old oak hammock. Its eight lakes and 37 bunkers make it entertaining and challenging for golfers of all skill levels. The city is a short driving distance to other top-rated courses, as well as beaches and state parks. Discover how you can follow your bliss in this “waterfront wonderland” on your next vacation.
To find out more contact the Rotary Park Environmental Center at (239) 549-4606 or visit capeparks.com.