PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–Each Independence Day, St. Andrews Bay and the Gulf of Mexico are filled with boaters. Both tourists and locals are heading out on the water, renting boats and helping to boost the economy. But compared to years past, this weekend may look a little different for some due to the weather forecast.
“I mean we’re definitely up 2 to 3 times from last year, especially for 4th of july, we see like probably more than 500 people a day,” said Emilee Wiser, a booking agent for Salty Pontoons and Triple A Jetski.
Across the Hathaway Bridge, Scotty’s Rentals is also keeping busy. They say their phones are ringing off the hook and all their boat slips empty.
“This weekend would be one of the busiest weekends, it always is, but mainly for locals,” said Scott Smith, the owner of Scotty’s Rentals.
However, for some water sport businesses, that isn’t the case. Paradise Adventures has seen a lot of foot traffic in recent days, but they say they’ve also seen a lot of cancellations.
“From a normal 4th of July weekend, we’re down maybe 25-30% from what our normal capacity is so there is a difference in the amount of people that are in the area and coming out on charters like ours,” said Heath Daigle, a boat captain for Paradise Adventures.
Captain Daigle attributes the decline to the possibility of bad weather and not to the coronavirus. He says they haven’t encountered too many customers showing concern.
“A group of people will come with masks on but in the first 10-15 minutes, they’ll take their masks off because they realize it’s a big boat, there’s a lot of room,” said Daigle.
To stay on top of the weather this 4th of July, you can download our Storm Track 13 mobile app.