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COVID-19 deals a blow to Panama City Beach bed tax revenue

Despite this year's record Memorial Day, recent months showed a drop in bed tax revenues in...
Despite this year's record Memorial Day, recent months showed a drop in bed tax revenues in Panama City Beach. (WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: Jun. 9, 2020 at 5:20 PM CDT
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It’s been a rollercoaster few months for area businesses.

"The way things went in April it was just horrible and May, once we opened up again and people started coming out, it was a glimmer of hope,” said Holiday Terrace Hotel general manager Fabricio Berrios. “This month we’ve seen it sort of skyrocket for the first part of the month. This last weekend we booked out. Next weekend we’ve already booked out.”

New data shows Panama City Beach’s bed tax revenue dropped 85% in April, but officials predict a drop of just 30% for June, a positive sign for the coming weeks.

“But since the Governor has opened beaches and really allowed vacation rentals to come back, Panama City Beach has been doing very well in terms of being able to drive demand,” said Bay County Tourist Development Council Executive Director Dan Rowe.

Rowe said Panama City Beach tourism is seeing a quicker recovery than some other vacation destinations.

“And being a drive destination we really are able to take advantage of a quicker recovery than some of the fly destinations where we have to get on an airplane to go to travel,” said Rowe.

Those drivers may be arriving in full force for what some refer to as the “pinnacle” of tourist season.

“So we’re expecting a very, very busy 4th of July. We’re really kind of gearing up and planning for it, working with our beach cleaning attendants, and those things. So we expect 4th of July to be a very busy weekend on this beach,” said Bay County commissioner Philip “Griff” Griffitts,

Officials also said an important part of reviving the local economy means doing so safely amid the current pandemic.

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