Mexico Beach not what it was before Hurricane Michael, still welcoming tourists
Once the local hot spot for people to vacation, Mexico Beach is suffering during tourist season after Hurricane Michael, but some people are still making the trek.
Mexico Beach is slowly rebuilding after the storm, but it's still seeing a significant decrease in tourism. While tourists are a vital part of its economy, President of the Mexico Beach Community Development Council Kimberly Shoaf said the city isn't where they hoped for the season.
"Looking at the tourism factor and saying, all right, at what level are we ready to get out there to say 'Come enjoy Mexico Beach,' and we know we are ready to some level but it's not a very en-heightened level," said Shoaf.
There are only three restaurants currently open in Mexico Beach, three of its four hotels have been demolished, and the other one is still being rebuilt. This hasn't stopped dedicated tourists from making their way to the area, although many only come for a single day trip.
Candi Brewer is a tourist who was visiting for the day but has been visiting Mexico Beach for many years.
"This is my happy place, I love it, it's laid back and quiet and everybody's friendly, and I'd rather go here only," said Brewer.
Tourism officials want people to come and enjoy Mexico Beach but don't want them to expect it to be what it once was.
"We don't want just, you know, to portray something that we're not," said Shoaf.
But they did say they are always happy to see people on the beach.
"We're very appreciative of those who have made the determination to come back to Mexico Beach," said Shoaf.
Whether Mexico Beach is ready or not, tourists are still flocking to the beach as the weather gets warmer, and it's safe to say longtime tourists aren't giving up on this town they know and love.