Summer Season: Crime Down and Business Up


Labor Day Celebrations began to commemorate the implementation of labor laws in the 19th century.

Before that time, 70 hour work weeks and child labor were the norm.

However, most Americans see Labor Day as traditionally marking the end of the summer season, and in Panama City Beach, it also means the end of the second busiest tourist season of the year.

The Panama City Beach Convention And Visitors Bureau and the TDC haven't released numbers for this summer season yet.

Bay County has already seen more rain by the end of summer than it normally does in a year.

On the July 4th weekend alone, Bay County saw 16 inches.

Tourist Kristina White says, "We didn't come down for July 4th because of the rain. We normally come down every year but the rain held us off this year.

Heavy rain around that time also caused more dangerous road conditions.

Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman says, "There were probably a few more crashes in the month of July since it seemed like it rained every day in the month of July."

But that aside, PCB Police say it's been a relatively average summer.

Last year, PCB Police responded to 15,624 calls from May 1st to Labor Day.

This year, that number dropped to 14,710.

Indoor businesses say they thrived in the rainy month.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not Retail Marketer Nichole Tarpley says, "We were crazy, we were busy, the phone was ringing off the hook. We know it's going to be a really crazy day when we can't stop answering the phone."

Ripley's saw a 10% increase in guests this summer compared to last.

On rainy days, they saw a 50% increase.

Tarpley says, "On average for the month of July, we saw around a thousand per day, some days were much higher."

But other local businesses say they struggled to keep afloat.

Shipwreck Island had to close its doors 11 times this year, triple the amount from last year.

Owner Buddy Wilkes says, "We rallied back two or three times during the season, we got very close to being even."

According to preliminary numbers from the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, some local businesses actually reported higher numbers of visitors this year than in year's past.

Official numbers will be released as early as Tuesday.


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