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Anna Maria Island seeing more visitors than ever before

Anna Maria Island seeing more visitors than ever before
Posted at 9:24 PM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 21:24:01-04

ANNA MARIA ISLAND, Fla. — This Memorial Day weekend kicks off the start of summer travel across the country and the Tampa Bay area is a popular place to visit.

In fact, more people are coming to Manatee County and Anna Maria Island than ever before, according to recent county data.

"It's just laid back, we love the people. It's a wonderful place for a family and has a small-town feel," said Bill and Pam Mizwicki, visiting with their family from Indiana.

Many people are flying into Sarasota- Bradenton International Airport which has become the busiest airport in the country for its size.

But getting to the beaches is tricky.

"Parking is a little rough," said Nicholas Gould, visiting the island with his family.

Parking has been a problem on the island for decades and it's only gotten worse. Two years ago the city of Holmes Beach eliminated more than 1,000 street parking spots overnight, and Manatee County commission chairman Kevin Van Ostenbridge is on a mission to get that parking back.

"Building a parking garage is a real possibility as well and that costs money. We’re talking 700 spaces for $13 million, but the truth is that the (Holmes Beach) mayor and the council could open up 1,000 spots for free," said Van Ostenbridge.

Van Ostenbridge says he’ll continue to work with county and state leaders to push for the Holmes Beach leaders to re-open street parking for beach-goers.

But in the meantime there is parking available at the public beaches and visitors to the island say waiting to park is worth the temporary headache.

"If I have to wait an extra 10 minutes, I don't mind waiting because of how awesome the beach is," said Gould.