Hurricane Hermine impacts tourism this Labor Day weekend in Panama City Beach

Published: Sep. 2, 2016 at 9:22 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Hurricane Hermine didn't wreak much havoc on Panama City Beach, but it did ruin many people's Labor Day weekend plans.

"We were planning on leaving last night and we were afraid the storm was gonna hit by the time we got here," said Terry Gravitt.

Gravitt almost called off his trip here from North Alabama.

He said, "We decided to leave this morning once we saw that it had cleared out, but a lot of people didn't come today I can tell."

But he says he was disappointed to find out Gulf Coast Jam was canceled.

"I hate they canceled it," said Gravitt. "I would've liked to have gone."

On Thursday Mayor Mike Thomas pulled the city's permits for the three day country music festival because of the potential for high winds. Since then, the TDC has been trying to put the word out that Panama City Beach is still open for business.

"We started getting pictures of the beach out we got the word out that the storm was not what we were scared it might be," said David Demarest, Public Relations Manager at Visit Panama City Beach. "Let everybody know it's still great to come down here."

Some local business owners say they really took a hit from the cancellation of Gulf Coast Jam, now just because it's one of the biggest events of the summer, but also because they lost so much revenue this past spring break.

"People that were coming down here now, they don't want to come so now we're stuck in a situation where they want a refund on their rooms because Gulf Coast Jam's not going on," said Neel Bennett, owner of Seahaven Beach Resorts. "It definitely puts the hotel owner in a quandary."

Bennett says they had about 50 cancellations Thursday night. He said they did book more rooms Friday because of the nicer weather, but he says typically they would've seen a lot more walk-ins by now.

"There definitely is a huge fall out," said Bennett. "We were hoping to see a lot of drive in traffic from Dothan and the surrounding areas and they're just not here as you can see the beach is pretty quiet."