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Frigid temperatures not keeping tourists away from Florida

Posted at 7:21 PM, Jan 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-03 23:09:45-05

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Tourism officials said tourists are not shying away from the cold Florida weather because, more than likely, they traveled from a cold weather state.

Tourism officials also said they are not worried people will cancel their plans because typically people book their trip up to 60 to 90 days ahead of their vacation.

“If you’re looking at one of those Baywatch movies or anything like that, you’ll see the beaches are full. Right? So that’s what you expect when you come to Florida, but they’re not. It’s because of the weather,” Ken Lepp, who is visiting from Ontario, said. 

People walked around the beach bundled up Wednesday, wearing various jackets for warmth. There were plenty of parking spaces available near St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach.

“We heard that the temperatures are going to warm up a little bit so that’s encouraging for us,” Lepp said.

Popular indoor attractions saw more visitors because of the cold weather and officials said they expected it.

“We did expect to have big crowds with the cold weather,” Bill Potts said.

Staff at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium said they adjust the water temperature for their animals, depending on the weather.

“As you can see we have plenty of room so even (with) these crowds (there) is still a great guest experience here at the aquarium,” Bill Potts, chief marketing director of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium said.

Businesses on the beach made adjustments too. The Palm Pavilion shut their windows because of the wind and turned on their heaters. 

“We have a room back there in the back that we’re able to seat people in. It’s very comfortable,” Ken Hamilton, president of the Palm Pavilion, said.

Their normally busy patio was quiet tonight, but Hamilton said they are ready for more crowds once it starts warming up again in Florida.

“People know that they can come and enjoy the Palm experience. (They can) watch a sunset. You might be looking through a window, but you an still see a beautiful sunset,” Hamilton said.