BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — This March, Bay County saw its highest tourist tax collections ever despite the pandemic.
In other tourist destinations, some businesses are closing, but here business is growing.
It’s obvious from the traffic on the roads that tourists are coming back to Panama City Beach. Tourist Development Council Executive Director, Dan Rowe, said this year there may be more than ever before.
“Our visitor spending is up above where most of the country is,” Rowe said. “Where a lot of places businesses are closing, people are losing their jobs. We need more people to work in Bay County because business is booming.”
Rowe said in March, Bay County’s tourism tax collection was up 40 percent from their benchmark year in 2018.
This is only the beginning of the busy season.
“It creates jobs and it creates opportunities so again our best days are still in the future,” Rowe said.
Rowe said they look into many metrics when measuring tourism revenue. One of those is the vacation rental market. Right now there are over 90 million dollars just since the start of 2021 setting us up for a record-breaking year.
“As we come out of the pandemic people want to get back together again,” Rowe said. “You know they get shots in arms and they want to celebrate the Fourth of July and family get-togethers this is the place they are going to do it.”
These high numbers are exciting for businesses across the board. Hotels are booked, restaurants are seeing waits, and the planes arriving at ECP are full.
Vice President of Communications for the Bay County Chamber of Commerce, Ashlee Davis, said this is great for everyone.
“Seeing the progress that we have made from before to now it is just kind of a positive outlook to see,” Davis said.
The chamber is even more excited about the news being that it is tourism appreciation month.