Open for Business

By: Courtney Hayes
By: Courtney Hayes

Panama City Beach also had significant storm surge damage, but the message from tourism leaders is the beach is back open for business. They're hoping a new marketing campaign will get that message across to potential visitors from out of state.

A bulldozer is the only sign Dennis hit the Holiday Inn Sunspree. Sand was pushed up towards the pool deck, but that didn't stop the Seanor family from canceling their summer vacation.

"We were supposed to come yesterday. When we saw Dennis coming we were worried, but we called yesterday and said 'are you open?' They said yeah, and so we just moved it back a day," says Terry Seanor.

Signs of Dennis' storm surge were much more apparent along the beaches off Thomas Drive. It took the Army Corps of Engineers weeks to dump newly dredged sand on these beaches; Dennis took it away in a day.

"There was significant impact from Dennis. After Ivan we still had about 60 percent of the sand from 1999 renourishment project was still intact. Now much of it is gone," says Bob Warren of the Tourism Development Council.

The sand may be gone, but almost all the resorts and restaurants are reopened. A $300,000 marketing campaign approved by the TDC Tuesday hopes to attract vacationers back to these beach businesses.

The Seanors are already sold. Their motto is they have to see it to believe, and they do.

"It's great. The only damage we saw driving down here was what was left from Ivan," says Terry Seanor.

The Boatyard Restaurant and Captain Crabby's reopened Tuesday evening. They were probably the hardest hit businesses on the beach.


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