NewsPinellas County


Tampa Bay communities prepare for crowds as spring break begins with travel ban, cruise cancellations

Posted at 4:59 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 19:21:28-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Tampa Bay communities are preparing for crowds of spring break travelers. This includes a local influx of crowds as Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando students, as well as USF students, all enjoy the same days off: March 14-22.

The spring break holiday comes as President Donald Trump announced a 30-day ban on European travel beginning March 13 and organizers cancel events across the globe.

RECOMMENDED: Coronavirus closings and cancellations in the Tampa Bay area

Michigan resident Kim Baligian is first to admit she had some major concerns about traveling to Florida in lieu of the coronavirus.

“I was definitely a little bit nervous going on the plane and traveling with young kids,” she explained.

Yet, she couldn’t bear the thought of missing her brother’s wedding on Indian Rocks Beach.

“I’m glad we came in the long run,” she said with a smile.

Local travel agents like Steven Gould of Gould's Travel Agency have been fielding calls from hesitant travelers.

“Our phones have been ringing steadily over the past week or two with people worrying about their future plans. We’ve got a lot of people traveling through Europe in May, June, July and beyond,” he elaborated.

Princess Cruise Lines is now also suspending all cruises for the next 60 days.

“It’s been one thing after another," Gould said. "We’re taking it all in strides, but we were shocked to hear about the travel ban to Europe and honestly hearing something like that really put a damper on our industry."

Combined, nearly 500,000 students will be off for spring break beginning March 14.

Pinellas County beach businesses tell ABC Action News they’re uncertain how the coronavirus will impact travel long-term, but they’re hopeful our beaches will continue to draw a regional crowd.

Matthew Loder, the owner of the Original Crabby Bill’s on Indian Rocks Beach, says they're hopeful people will visit the beaches as opposed to crowded areas like New York City or Disney World.

“They don’t have to be on a cruise ship where they feel like they’re going to be quarantined, or on an airplane. It is a driveable destination. That’s the one thing we’re hopeful about,” Loder said.

From red tide to hurricanes, Loder adds that they’ve become accustomed to uncertainty.

“Whatever happens, we’re prepared to weather it,” he added.