As the sun heats up, so is the tourism season here in the Panhandle. Local tourism officials and businesses are expecting a busy season.
The smell of barbecue and suntan lotion can only mean one thing...it's summer in the Panhandle. If summer is the main event, then Memorial day weekend serves as the opening act. This weekend, AAA estimates that 34.8 million drivers will hit the road, with tourism officials hoping that many of them head to the Panhandle.
Roads are already getting busy with incoming visitors with our incoming visitors to Panama City Beach on memorial day weekend.
Pier Park was already bustling with people on Friday, and the beaches were seeing tourists trickle in as well. It was a sight that excited local business owners.
"Well the numbers have been good," said Christine McLaughlin of 'Hook'd' restaurant. "I believe that everything has been on the upswing, we anticipate wonderful crowds," McLaughlin. "The weather is supposed to be gorgeous...we're just gonna have a blast here at 'Hook'd.'"
On the Beaches of South Walton, there's also a lot of buzz about the kickoff of the summer season.
"It's a big weekend and it gets us off and running for 90 days of our peak business," said Jon Ervin with the South Walton TDC.
Ervin says there's a great deal of confidence heading into this season.
"We've [had] 13, 14 months of double digit growth, and you start to expect it," Ervin said. "And all indications from bed tax collectors are that is going to be high occupancy and good business."