More snowbirds expected this season, tourism officials say

Rent prices shot up after Hurricane Michael making it much higher this year but that has not stopped the snowbirds from coming to Panama City Beach and having a good time. (WJHG/WECP)
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It's getting colder up north which means snowbirds are beginning to fly south for the winter.

"People down here are just wonderful. It's just a good time down here," said Indianapolis resident Brad Abel.

Rent prices shot up after Hurricane Michael making it more costly to visit this year, but that has not stopped visitors from coming to Panama City Beach and having a good time.

"We've rode bicycles for the past three and a half weeks since we've been down here. We've enjoyed some of the activities down here," said Abel.

Jayna Leach with the Tourist Development Council says they are expecting more visitors to come down this year than last year. She says a lot of short term beach housing options were not available last year due to damage from Hurricane Michael.

"I don't really think there were issues with pricing side of things. I think of the vacation rental side of things, the properties really love the winter residents and they market to get them back," said Leach.

Leach said the winter visitors help bring in money until spring season.

"Visitors really do have an economic impact on the area," she said, "They really help us fulfill the shoulder season as they begin to come in December and we see them in full force in January and February."

Leach said many of the snowbirds are returning visitors and many stay through the end of March.

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