NewsPinellas County


Labor Day Letdown: Hotels see waves of cancellations from Hurricane Dorian

Posted at 5:11 PM, Aug 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-30 22:01:52-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Labor day letdown! Tampa Bay Beachfront businesses are bummed.

Hurricane Dorian is to blame for scaring away business on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

The McCall family, visiting St. Pete Beach from New Jersey, gets to enjoy a little more personal space to enjoy the sun and surf this weekend.

“There’s definitely a little more elbow room this time around,” James McCall said with a chuckle.

The family visits the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort every year on the last weekend before the kids go back to school in New Jersey. Even Hurricane Dorian, not reason enough for the family to break tradition.

“So instead of going away from the bad weather, we’re going towards the bad weather,” Holly McCall exclaimed.

From St. Pete Beach, the family plans to spend three days in Orlando, which includes a visit to Walt Disney World.

Yet, not many families are following their lead. Two weeks ago, the Tradewinds was booked solid for the holiday weekend. Now, they're down to 30 percent occupancy, according to resort president Keith Overton and that's including several new bookings from Duke energy linemen.

“The timing is pretty bad on this one. This is our last big holiday weekend of the year," Overton explained.

Beach businesses count on a busy Labor Day weekend to carry them through September, which is the slowest month of the year.

“Mother Nature doesn’t plan things accordingly, does she? It is a little economically stressful for all of our businesses,” Robin Miller, the President and CEO of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce said.

Tourism leaders also worry about the bigger picture: If Hurricane Dorian causes severe damage, it could throw a wrench in the entire tourism industry.

“Our insurance premiums go up, the cost of construction goes up, supply costs go up, so nobody wants to see a storm hit Florida in any area or in any capacity," Overton said.

Miller says the Tampa Bay area tourism businesses are trying to stay positive and be proactive about keeping guests safe.

“We’re survivors. And we’ve been through this before and we will keep our fingers crossed that there is minimal impact to everything,” she said.

Hotels in Pinellas County are being flexible about cancellations for guests still trying to make up their minds about travel plans.