Hurricane Ian could impact snowbird season in Panama City Beach

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – The cold weather is a little reminder that our northern visitors will soon be knocking on the door. The Sunshine State has always been a hot spot for those who live in colder climates to vacation in the winter. But with Hurricane Ian temporarily wiping out many popular southwest Florida destinations, tourism officials said they expect an uptick in open and ready areas such as Begging.

As things start to slow down in Panama City Beach, snowbirds are flocking for the winter.

“These northerners, they don’t want to stay up there. It’s already cold up there. So they don’t want to stay,” said Mugsy Parens, president of the Panama City Beach Senior Center. “I see a lot of different license plates coming in right now and they’re all from the north.”

We’re usually not the only ones to see new faces this time of year. But the destruction that Hurricane Ian left in the south has also left little to no room for visitors as recovery efforts are underway.

Tourism officials in Fort Myers told NewsChannel 7 in a statement, “We are still assessing the damage done to our industry partners and what impact this will have on room availability for visitors. I can tell you that the available rooms are currently being prioritized for the many people in the area who help us with immediate needs (first responders, adjusters, contractors, etc.), as well as temporary accommodation for people displaced by the storm. Although we don’t have specifics on when we will be in a better position for room availability, I assure you that we will do our best to communicate conditions and availability as information becomes available. available.

This is a climb we hiked in our area after Hurricane Michael.

“I mean, when it hit here, it wiped out our snowbird season,” Parens said.

Parens said they expect those who usually head south to stop and stay closer to us this year.

“I think that’s what’s going to happen, you know we’re going to have a lot more people,” Parens said. “They’re going to come to Florida and they’re going to look for a different place.”

The road to recovery in Southwest Florida will not be quick. But if our begging community has learned anything, it’s that you can build back better and come back stronger.

Tourism officials with Visit Florida have been working to promote other areas of the state that are also ready to welcome visitors, while communities in southwest Florida slowly work to get back on their feet. They launched a whole marketing campaign last week explaining how they plan to maintain tourism in the area.

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