PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — This weekend is a major start to the busiest part of the tourism season for Panama City Beach.
Memorial Day weekend is known as the unofficial start of summer for the area. It’s one of the biggest and busiest weekends of the year for Panama City Beach.
“Memorial Day in Panama City Beach is officially the kick-off to summer,” Visit Panama City Beach Public Relations Manager Lacee Rudd said. “Everybody gets excited for a three-day weekend. We know kids are getting out of school, so it’s just a great time to celebrate with friends and family, enjoy the beach.”
Historically, numbers of visitors skyrocket for the summer season after Memorial Day weekend. Even the hotels on the beach see it.
“It is always great, we are always excited… Memorial Day is the kick-off to our season,” Holiday Inn Resort Vice President of Marketing Elise Jetton-Whitman said. “This is when we expect to be 100 percent full, and we are welcoming everybody ready.”
Visit Panama City Beach officials said children getting out of school for summer and the three-day weekend contribute to this busy holiday weekend.
Local travel officials also want to remind visitors to stay safe in the increased traffic in the area this weekend.
“With everything that you’re doing, give yourself as much time as you can, both driving to the airport with the increased traffic in our market area, and also once you get here to turn in your rental car,” Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) Board Chairman Glen McDonald said. “Take as much time and as much ahead of time as you can.”
Airport Executive Director Parker McClellan said airport traffic is usually Thursday through Tuesday on Memorial Day weekend.
“I’d ask that everybody plans ahead,” he said. “Remember that when you hit the airport, the entrance isn’t going to be what it was a year ago. It’s different, you have to take your time and watch the signs. As always, my favorite line is, ‘Pack your patience.’”
With last year breaking records, officials said the same trend is continuing through this year.
“Moving forward into the summer, we think the forecast looks great for visitation,” Visit Panama City Beach Vice President of Marketing Jayna Leach said. “Again, looking back at 2021, we know that that was a record-breaking year, so we do have expectations that it might not be a record-breaking year for 2022, but we know visitation is still going to be very strong.”
“Of course, summer is always the busiest season in the destination,” Rudd said. “We expect that to continue this year and hope to see numbers that are comparable to last year, or even exceed that. Just keep busting through that glass ceiling.”
The summer season is expected to go all the way through Labor Day weekend.
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