So far 2020 has been a rollercoaster, especially in our region famous for its tourism and hospitality. So how are things going on our coast as reopening progresses? We reached out to members of the local Marine Industries Association to get the inside scoop on how businesses are responding and rebounding. Here’s what they have to say in their own words…

Drone Photo of Fort Myers Beach

David Kastan, Director of Marketing for Salty Sam’s Marina, says Fort Myers Beach is settling into the new normal. “After some very challenging months, things are starting to feel like they should this time of year in Southwest Florida. Parrot Key Caribbean Grill is gradually getting back to a new normal. We are maintaining 6 feet of separation between customers, restaurant staff is wearing masks, servers are carrying individual bottle of sanitizing solution, and we have switched to disposable service products like paper menus, etc. Boat rentals remain strong, while the Pirate Ship and Sight Sea-R Cruises are slowly but steadily filling up, at 50% capacity to practice social distancing.”

Boating is booming according to Scott Rush of San Carlos Marine. “We see a pent-up demand as folks get out and around. Sales are almost too good, certainly seem to be stronger than the supply chain. We only have a handful of boats left, but engines are abundant at my store. Service business has also been great.”

Barb Hansen of Southwest Florida Yachts reports seeing a boost in domestic travel. “I absolutely see a positive side to the recovery – people are staying in the USA! We have many charter clients who had planned to charter in the BVI or Europe but have cancelled those plans. They want to come to Florida instead. Of course, we all hope that the re-opening continues to go well across the country and that there is no resurgence of the virus this fall. As of now, I see the activity picking up for most businesses as people are ready to get out and enjoy themselves. Let’s hope that continues!”

Boating has literally helped saved jobs, says Mike Gursky from East Penn Manufacturing, owner of DEKA and Taylor & Crowe Battery. “In April, the automotive battery market declined due to fewer cars on the road and many ‘snow birds’ made their exodus from Florida. However, the direct opposite effect on sales occurred within the marine industry. Marine battery sales started to soar and continued to be robust. Boat repair and service facilities are working hard to keep up with all necessary repairs needed to get boats on the water and working smoothly. I am very grateful to the marine industry and our marine customers for the business they have given us during this pandemic. The marine business we gained helped us keep everyone working though this unprecedented time. It is now June and I am happy to say that our automotive business has picked up again now that certain restrictions have been lifted and our marine business continues to be strong!”

As many of our neighbors work tirelessly to recover, we encourage boaters to continue pursuing their passion for the water and supporting our local marine businesses. Don’t forget to visit our member directory to get in touch with local marine experts and share your boating photos with us by tagging @goboatingflorida on Facebook and Instagram. Stay #GulfShoreStrong and we’ll see you on the water!




Salty Sam’s Marina | Fort Myers Beach, FL | 239.463.7333

San Carlos Marine | Fort Myers, FL | 239.334.3424

Southwest Florida Yachts, Inc. | Cape Coral, FL | 239.257.2788

East Penn Manufacturing Co. | Fort Myers, FL | 239.437.2903

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