Snowbird Numbers Down at Panama City Beach

For more than 30 years, Panama City Beach businesses have counted on winter visitors from Canada and northern states to help them make it to the profitable spring and summer seasons.

But there seems to be less snowbirds making the annual pilgrimage from Canada this year.

Noah's Ark Snowbird Club has been a gathering place for northern visitors for years. Ark managers say they've noticed fewer Canadians so far this winter.

Some believe they're taking advantage of a better exchange rate on Canadian dollars, and traveling farther south this year.

Luke Pinegar says this year's hurricanes and fewer inexpensive hotel rooms on Panama City Beach haven't helped either.

"Also, losing all of the smaller hotels that many people stayed in on the beach in for many, many years is hurting. Unfortunately, those are going to be gone for these folks, and they may be in a position of having to look for something else, or just decide it was too much trouble to come back."

Pinegar says he expects the numbers of winter vacationers to go back up after the first of the year.