Local businesses: tourist season is off to a good start

SOUTH WALTON, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Three months out of the year the Panhandle is packed with visitors from all over.

"This is definitely the first week of it getting busier, so it's just going to be busier, busier, and busier," said Peddlers Delivery Manager, Robert Prieto.

The unofficial kickoff to summer began Memorial Day weekend and local businesses say that was just the beginning of the economic boost.

"It's kickoff for the summer time. So we have a great Memorial Day weekend," said Mario McNally, manager at The Hub 30A. "We had Drivin'n'Crying here Saturday night. We're starting our new Saturday and Sunday Jazz. We have live music both nights too. We also are doing breakfast that we're starting to starting at 8:00 every morning."

"Literally school is coming out and its also its warm. Everyone wants to be at the beach right now. It's like perfect temperatures and the water is blue and its just a good time to come now," said Prieto.

But it's not just at the beach where you see the increasing number of people.

"We went literally where it was pretty slow to where it was non-stop all weekend. All weekend we were non-stop all day," Prieto said. "Night and day difference, overnight."

"Record breaking. So Saturday by far has been our busiest night ever," McNally added. "This is basically our year three so it's been growing, but this has definitely increased from year over prior."

"Especially with all the new stuff across Alys Beach, Seacrest, Rosemary. Everywhere has been building so much and expanding that I think this year is going to be bigger than last year for sure," Prieto.

Local businesses prepare and wait all year for the people to come out of the woodwork and fill our little towns.

"We've been standing around just making sure the bikes are at 100 percent. Cleaning them, flipping them around and making sure they're ready for the season because this is the time," said Prieto.

"Well we just add more staff," said McNally. "We've opened up more venues, we have different bars outside too. So there is plenty of space, plenty of room for people. Plenty of places to get drinks, plenty of places to get food."

Although the businesses love it, some feel it can get a bit overcrowded.

And when that happens Prieto advised, "Patience, patience is the best thing. Everyone is out here and they are in good spirits for the most part, though. They're all on vacation and having a good time.
A good time and great profits for businesses."

Both businesses we spoke to said they expect this year to be the biggest and best one yet.