Frances Could Provide a Boost for Local Tourism

As Frances sets its sights of Florida, people are getting out of the way. It’s the largest evacuation in the state’s history; over two and a half million people have been told to get out of the storm’s way. Plus, vacationers planning to go to other parts of the state are stopping off in Panama City Beach.

Local tourism leaders are welcoming them with open arms on the last big holiday of the 2004 summer tourist season. In fact, Labor Day traditionally signals an end to the local 100-day summer season.

TDC Executive Director Bob Warren said they’re getting calls from people trying to get out of Frances’ way, and the news couldn’t come sooner for some motel owners who are experiencing a 50 percent drop in business right now. Those cancellations are being off set by those fleeing the storm and looking for a place to stay.

Interstate Rest Areas are jammed and motels all along I-10 in North Florida and bursting at the seams. The next closest stop in Panama City where there is plenty of accommodations.

The big event here this weekend is the formal closing of Miracle Strip Amusement Park, which will be open for the last time this Sunday night. The popular attraction for years has been sold to condominium developers. Shipwreck Island Water Park is not closing and will remain in operation.