Tourists are spending more money, says local official

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 5:31 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG) - At the All American Diner in Panama City Beach, summer looked a little different this year.

“We have had to adjust of course to the capacity. We have a longer wait time but most customers are ok with it. They understand anywhere they go its gonna be a wait,” said the diner’s owner, Glenda Power, and it seems people are willing to make that wait. Every other table was filled with hungry diners on Friday while the restaurant balanced a 50% capacity rule.

Power said, “I think that people are just ready to get out of town. They were tired of being quarantined and so they wanted to head to the beach and they’ve actually came.”

So much so the diner’s performance this year topped previous years. “This year is actually up for us over 2018 and 19,” she said.

Dan Rowe with the Bay County Tourist Development Council said while tourism revenue was down 85% in April, things quickly took an upward turn. “In May we were down 30%, but in June it was a record breaking year from a revenue standpoint. Visitation was down- there were less visitors in the market, but they were spending more money,” said Rowe.

The data also shows visitors are spending more money, in a shorter amount of time, “and as we get into August and September, people are making very short-term reservations. They’re deciding today to come to the beach this weekend.”

Rowe said while forecasts are conservative for the fall, he expects the trend of last-minute visitors to continue.

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