PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Florida is preparing for a record-breaking spring break season. Travel experts are as confident as ever as we approach one of the biggest travel seasons of the year.
“We have guests coming from all over the country already so February started up early and March is looking fantastic for business and beyond. It’s a late Easter this year so it will carry on right into April,” said Clyde Smith who leads the Bilmar Beach Resort in Treasure Island.
Bookings at the Bilmar are strong and follow a successful 2021.
“It is interesting that with the inflation where it’s at, people are still getting their travel experiences in. Being locked up like we were in 2020, people now realize the importance of time away and time with family,” Smith added.
Money is also trickling into gift shops like Captain Dave’s Trading Company. David Horne said his 2021 sales were up 35% from the year prior and he’s excited about the Spring Break business boost.
“Getting your spring break in will constitute about 40% of your entire business for the year so you’ve got to have the strong spring break season,” Horne added
Despite the pandemic, Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Manatee Counties saw record-breaking tourism in 2021. That’s expected to carry over into the Spring Break season.
AAA doesn’t track Spring Break travel like they do other holiday forecasts. However, Mark Jenkins said they’re definitely expecting a busy March and April.
“People are feeling more confident about taking a trip and that’s really what we’re seeing on bookings. AAA travel bookings right now are much stronger than they were this time last year so we’re expecting a very strong spring break season,” Jenkins explained.
What about those of us wanting to get away for the spring holiday? Donald ONeal of Travel World said be prepared to shell out more money.
“People need to be flexible, and they need to be realistic about what they want to spend because there are not a lot of last-minute cheap deals out there,” ONeal said.
His best advice? Be open to various locations and travel dates.
“For example, in Hillsborough County, the kids are off school the Monday after spring break so you actually have a week and a day next year that would be better than flying back on Sunday when the airfare is slim,” ONeal added.
Businesses are more pumped for this Spring Break 2022 than they’ve been in years.
“I’m excited. I’ll give everyone a hug and a kiss when they come in the door,” Horne said jokingly with a laugh.