Chilly spring affecting Sarasota tourism - WFLA News Channel 8

Chilly spring affecting Sarasota tourism

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SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

The cold conditions on Tuesday were not exactly a good advertisement for Florida beaches.  This is a prime tourist season, and these temperatures don't spell good news for some area businesses.

This is the peak of one of the most important tourist seasons of the year with snowbirds wrapping up their vacations and spring breakers coming down for a trip.  Some waterfront places around Sarasota like Marinas and beaches were bare.

So people found some other things to do with their free time.  On Tuesday at Sarasota Bayfront park, folks were bundled up and bracing the elements.Sounds like the perfect time to go on a boat, right?

Apparently, not many people thought so. The LeBarge Dolphin cruise did not have a lot of passengers.  Captain Bill Eaton said, "Over the past weeks we've had 70 to 100 people on the trip. Today there are about 40."

The numbers of passengers on this ship is small compared to last year, and other businesses on the marina are hurt too.  "Weather can have a big impact," said Eaton.

And it impacted the plans of Sue Hermon and her granddaughter Molly. They tried to go to the beach on Monday.  Hermon said, "We were thinking, 'Oh we'll get there early because it will be packed. Drove in the parking lot, probably, got a parking space right up front and I was like 'We are in serious trouble, there's nobody out there!'"

She wasn't kidding. Siesta Key beach was bare, very atypical for this time of year.  There were a few brave souls battling the wind and the waves but it's not exactly what Chris Nieft from Chicago had in mind.

He said, "This is our first time at the beach in Sarasota, so we had to come see it."

But he says it's all about perspective.  Nieft said, "It's still better than Chicago so right now I'm ok."  Turns out, many of the tourists spent the day at St. Armand's circle.  If it's too cold to swim, why not shop?

Even Big Olaf's Creamery stayed busy.  Owner Dave Tesar said, "You don't need any napkins when you go outside because it's not going to drip a whole lot!"

So folks are still managing to have fun, but many are still waiting for the heat to come back.  One visitor from Indiana said, "We're gonna stay here long enough so we can get some sun."

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