Panama City Beach summer tourism numbers break records

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:28 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It’s the final countdown for the Panama City Beach summer tourism season, and some local businesses said it was a pretty busy one.

Pier Park has been packed and business has been booming.

“I feel like every summer we just get more and more busy,” Coastal Casuals Manager Natalia Smith said.

“It’s hard to give a number count of how many people were here,” Shimmering Seas Jewelry & Gifts Co-Owner John Olshefski said.

Visit Panama City Beach officials said this summer’s tourism numbers broke records.

“Our July numbers were up 52 percent over last year,” Visit Panama City Beach Vice President of Marketing Jayna Leach said.

Smith said she isn’t surprised. She said she’s been seeing hundreds of people going in and out of Pier Park, including her shop.

“They’ll go to the beach and they’ll come shopping and eat lunch. Sometimes during the days it’ll kind of slow down because everybody’s at the beach and stuff but then later at night, it’s like a whole different ball game,” Smith said.

Just a few doors down at Shimmering Seas, Olshefski said he’s been seeing the crowds since March.

“I mean we had a lot of people starting from spring break. I mean comparable to last year, there were a lot of people last year too but this year was a gangbuster,” Olshefski said.

But looking into the fall season, Olshefski said he isn’t sure what to expect.

“The kids, well they were doing remote studies but now they’re back in school ... and now more people are going back to work. So we’re kind of open earring and guessing like everybody else,” Olshefski said.

But schools do have breaks coming up, which Smith said really helps things along during the slower months. There is still a week left in the summer season.

Tourism officials said things might be calming down just a bit, but that probably won’t last very long.

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