NewsPinellas County


Tourism businesses make adjustments to combat high gas prices

Spring Break coincides with a spike in gas prices
Posted at 5:48 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 18:38:51-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — High gas prices are continuing to hit all of us hard at the pump, but for businesses that rely on gas to provide services, the pain at the pump is even worse.

On March 14, the national average for gas was at $4.33 a gallon. The average in Florida was one cent higher at $4.34 a gallon.

The high gas prices come as Florida experiences some of the busiest travel times of the year: Spring Break.

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For Michael Berry, who co-owns Woody’s Watersports in Madeira Beach with his wife, the gas prices are costing their business hundreds of dollars a day.

“I could spend anywhere between $200-$600 a day on gas and buy 100 to 300 gallons a day during busy season,” Berry explained.

Woody’s Watersports in John's Pass just added a small fuel surcharge to their rentals, which is something they’ve only done twice in 15 years (the other time followed the Gulf Oil Spill) and it’s not something owner Berry takes lightly.

“I don’t think anybody down here wants to add anything extra to their bill. We don’t want to charge our customers the gas surcharge. We have a lot of loyal customers but we had to consider the long-term plan,” he added.

Steven Papen at Fintastic Fishing Charters said the price spike is costing him thousands of dollars and he has to pass that on to his fishing customers, though he is doing everything he can to keep the price hike as low as possible.

“I buy about 25,000 gallons of fuel a year. So, if the price is up $2 a gallon, that’s $50,000. That’s a lot of money to spend to put it out the exhaust pipe,” he explained.


Nearby at Hubbard’s Marina in John’s Pass, Dylan Hubbard hasn’t increased prices for his fishing, dolphin watching and sunset cruises, but he’s asking his captains to idle their dozen boats as little as possible and pre-plan trips.

“We’re trying to ensure that we’re not burning excess fuel. We’re just using enough to get the job done. That’s kind of the motto right now,” he said.

It comes as hooks, tackle and payroll expenses are also up.

At Compass Limo on Park Boulevard in Pinellas Park, Joe Prestipino is paying more to fill up his limos and party buses. Yet, business is picking up post-COVID and for now, it’s enough to offset the high fuel costs.

“There’s only so much you can do but we do what we can and I don’t want to raise prices too much, I still want people to have a good time,” he elaborated.

Tourism business owners told ABC Action News that good times will roll despite the gas price toll.

“If the fish are somewhere, then we’re going there. Whatever it takes to get there, we’re going,” said Papen.

Berry agrees, “Gas prices are something that I think about quite a bit, but I’m not going to let it dominate my thoughts that’s for sure. I hope people aren’t going to let people let gas prices ruin their day either.”