Sanibel experienced exceptional traffic last year, as beach parking sales rose to an all-time high and persisted to surpass records in January.
As per the causeway toll report, 3.5 million vehicles crossed the Sanibel Causeway bridge last year surpassing the annual records. Despite declines in January and February, traffic on the island was up 19 percent compared to the last year and 5.5 percent more than before the COVID pandemic in 2019.
The number of vehicles counted at the toll booth in December surpassed 300,000 for the first time, which also occurred in May, June, and July. December traffic was 13.62 percent higher or 36,835 more vehicles than the same month last year and 7 percent higher than in 2019.
In November 2021, the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau reported record summer tourism numbers for Lee County. The study showed 27 percent of the nearly 1.2 million visitors to the county between July and September stayed on Sanibel.
The report also reveals that the number one attraction on the island is the beach. CFO Steve Chaipel told councilors at their February meeting that sales of beach parking spaces reached a historic high in the city in fiscal year 2021, which ran from October to September and continue to break records for the fiscal year 2022.
The city earned $1.2 million in beach parking sales in FY2022, a 40 percent increase in October, a 21.79 percent increase in November, and a 45.9 percent increase in December compared to the same months in 2019. January increased by nearly 25 percent over January 2021.
Beach parking permit sales also increased from $172,047 in FY2020 to $208,147 in FY2021.
Visitors looking to avoid standing in traffic on Sanibel Island can download the free Sanibel Bound app, which gives real-time traffic updates, or watch a live video stream of the Sanibel Causeway and Periwinkle intersections. Both are available on the city’s website.