Gulf Coast sees better than expected holiday weekend traffic
The Fourth of July weekend was good, not great, for most beach destinations along the Gulf Coast affected by the BP oil disaster and the continuous negative media reports that have scared away a lot of summer foot traffic. The holiday helped give many areas a much needed shot in the arm according to a CNN report.
For example,at the Gulf Shores Plantation in Gulf Shores, Alabama, occupancy rates were at 60 percent, up from the 40-50 percent it has seen since the oil came ashore their white sandy beaches. While a nice improvement, it is still far below the normal 90-95 percent occupancy levels seen over the Independence Day weekend.
Even though business is down by about 50 percent in most communities, many tourism officials are still working hard to ensure that this summer does not turn out to be a complete wash for businesses. Mike Foster, a spokesman for the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, said "Actually what we're trying to do is get our industry to focus on the
50 percent that are here and making sure that they have a good time and
go home and tell their people about it."
Bottom line – please the people that are showing up and convince others that it is still safe to visit the Gulf region. While the former might be easy, the latter is surely another case altogether.
Florida saw occupancy rates anywhere from 60 to 98 percent in some areas, with many beach destinations pleasantly surprised with the turnout of visitors over the holiday weekend.
Travelers have been booking more last-minute vacations in order to make sure where they are headed is safe. According to CNN, "The non-group leisure travel segment, which makes up about 35 percent
of July's business, is down by half. But this year customers have been
booking within a week of arrival, a much shorter window than last year
when visitors typically booked three weeks in advance."
So for now it looks like many travelers will be waiting it out until the very last minute before booking their summer travel to the Gulf. Something that will keep many hotel, property and business owners up at night as they hope for similar good news like the kind they received last weekend.