Tourists spend vacation at local businesses due to tropical storm

Local News

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — As Tropical Storm Claudette moved on shore, pouring rain across local beaches, tourists vacated the beach and visited local businesses.

Many tourists visited arcades like Funland Arcade with their families. Joel McDavid, general manager of Funland Arcade said the business can see as much as 30% more business with rainfall drawing people away from the beaches. 

“If I have extra people I might bring them in,” McDavid said. “But usually we run the same crew all the time. Everybody just has to work a little harder when it rains.”

Rainfall can also potentially lead tourists to spending more money. Rather than being able to visit the beach and the Gulf throughout the day, visitors occupy time going to local businesses, and eating at restaurants. 

For visitors from further away, the tropical storm can alter vacation plans.

“I’m a little bit nervous about it,” James Vinson, visiting from Rome, Georgia said. “It could be more expensive, it could be cheaper I don’t know.” 

Vinson was visiting Bay County with over 30 relatives and friends.

But other tourists didn’t believe that spending more time indoors, at places like arcades would impact their spending. 

“We’ll probably leave here and go grab lunch somewhere,” Robert Cannon, visiting with his family from Dothan, Alabama said. “So no, we definitely plan on getting out and the weather, unless it gets really severe we’ll still get out and about.”

While a tornado warning was alerted for about 45 minutes in the early afternoon Saturday, businesses were packed with tourists earlier in the day. 

While tourists were able to find other activities to occupy time throughout the weekend without going to the beach, it was a different experience for Vinson, from past visits to Panama City Beach.

”We’ve been down here every year and this weather’s a new experience,” Vinson said. “We always dealt with good weather so I don’t know.”

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