The July 4 holiday is traditionally the busiest tourist period along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Panama City Beach business operators say this year may have been a record setter.
A crowd estimated between 100 to 150 thousand visitors spent one or more days in Bay County.
No vacancy signs up and down front beach road. With hot, sunny weather, thousands would seek accommodations.
"We have very few rooms the last few nights very busy. As soon as one opens it is not more than five minutes before it is filled," said Albert Maulding of Chateau Motel.
In Peek's Motel, J.R. Peek said "We've been real busy the last few nights and really we are looking pretty good through July"
Last July, Hurricane Dennis and several weekends of heavy rains destroyed the tourist season along the world's most beautiful beaches.
Funland Arcade has been open on Panama City Beach since the early 1950s. This July 4, business is way up over last year.
"We’ve had a few condos open this year; that's 400 more rooms, and we haven't scared anyone off with talk of hurricanes," said Joel McDavid.
Three-weeks-ago, Mark Kleimeyer and his wife opened a coffee shop on Panama City Beach and they taste sweet success.
"Traffic is real good. Not that rowdy. I think the crowds are a lot more family oriented," said Kleimeyer.
Merchants hope to maintain the business momentum through the Labor Day weekend. It is traditional end of the summer tourist season.
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