Hurricane Matthew impacting Tampa Bay travel

Hotels offering deals to those in storm's path
Posted at 5:59 PM, Oct 05, 2016

Hurricane Matthew may not bring much rain to the Gulf Coast side of Florida, but the storm is having an impact on travel in the Tampa Bay area.

Amanda and and her husband just had their dream wedding Saturday in Clearwater.  But their dream honeymoon to Jamaica was canceled when they learned Hurricane Matthew was headed straight for the island.

"We actually found out during the wedding.  I had my phone on me so I could take some pictures with some friends, and I got an email from our travel agent saying that we were canceled and we had to reschedule," said Amanda Savas.

Thankfully the couple had travel insurance to refund the trip, and they're trying to make the best of it with a mini "staycation" in Sarasota.

"It wasn't too bad. We're just happy to be together and more so just worried about everybody else that's getting a big impact from this like down in Haiti, Jamaica--where we were supposed to go, the Bahamas, and everybody in Florida," said Savas.

While the storm is ruining plans and disappointing couples like Jason and Amanda, it's also proving to be a benefit for some of Florida's Gulf Coast businesses and resorts like Trade Winds in St. Pete Beach.   

"The phenomenon we usually experience is when a hurricane does pass the east coast of Florida, many of those folks will come stay with us here for the evacuation phase of the hurricane," said Keith Overton with TradeWinds Island Resorts.

The resort has lost a few reservations from nervous travelers who want to avoid Florida altogether. But the people coming here from other parts of the state are making up for it.

"Obviously we wish storms didn't affect Florida in any way, but sometimes they do.  And we want to make sure we do our best to make sure we take care of the Floridians who need to come over here and seek safe haven," Overton said.

Several hotels are offering discounted rates for people trying to get out of the path of the hurricane or are re-booking travel plans.  Visit Tampa Bay has a full list here, and will be updating it as new offers come in.