PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLA. (WMBB) — Bay County is anticipating its busiest few days of the year, as tourists stream to Panama City Beach for the Fourth of July weekend.
“Tourism is the number one economic driver in Bay County,” Lacee Rudd, Panama City Beach Public Relations manager said. “Holiday weekends like this just really support our economy and Bay County, our local businesses, attractions, business owners in the area. So it’s very beneficial to the area.”
With high numbers of tourists expected, local businesses like SandBar Seafood and BBQ Joint in Panama City Beach is anticipating its most customers throughout the year.
To compensate, general manager Gerald Yarbrough will be adding two or three workers to each shift to keep up with an influx of customers.
“We’ve been extremely busy, hour – hour and a half waits or more,” Yarbrough said. “Have to staff up really big so I think I just have to bring in extra staff.”
In past years, Yarbrough has been able to estimate how much business the restaurant will receive over July 4th weekend. However, with people returning to the beaches for the first time in two years for July 4th, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yarbrough is unsure how many customers may show up.
“Last year nobody could go anywhere,” Yarbrough said. “And this year people are really just going to be able to do a whole lot.”
Besides high estimates for local businesses, there will also be local firework displays for residents and tourists to enjoy.
Panama City Beach’s firework displays will begin with a light up at Papa Joe’s at 8:30 p.m. on July 2nd. Then on the 3rd there will be fireworks at Boardwalk Beach Resort Hotel at 8:30 p.m. followed by more fireworks at 8:45 p.m. at Grand Lagoon. Finally on July 4th, there will be a fireworks display, which is fired from the Russell-Fields City Pier and the M.B. Miller Pier, beginning at 9 p.m.