High demand at Tampa Bay beach hotels, locals urged to book ‘staycation’ now

Pinellas County

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – The gulf beaches are humming with visitors again but the flood of travelers flying into Florida could also impact your family’s summer plans.

8 On Your Side found if you’re trying to book a summer “staycation”, you may have to act fast before you’re out of luck.

Local vacation spots like Camelot Hotel and Condo on Clearwater Beach is booked this weekend.

“Memorial weekend is sold out, will be soon, next weekend, the weekend is just [full]…between Booking.com, Expedia and our locals,” said GM of The Camelot Hotel & Condo, Vickie Rodriguez.

8 On Your Side spoke with some of their guests happy to be out of Chicago.

“Just visiting, it’s my son’s first time to the beach,” said Holly Pink standing poolside with her son, Malichi. “I just wanted to swim down in Florida!” exclaimed her son.

The President and CEO of Visit St. Pete/ Clearwater Steve Hayes says the tourism is great for the economy bouncing back from the pandemic.

“The loss we saw during the pandemic in 2020 was close to two billion dollars. We want to get back to that because it helps support small and large businesses,” Hayes said.

Hayes said numbers are already looking better than pre-pandemic years.

“If you look at April 2020, it was the lowest hotel occupancy in our history at 20%. But in April 2021 we were at 86% which exceeds what we saw in 2019,” Hayes explained.

Meanwhile, locals like Roger Wayne enjoy seeing the boom in people.

“Usually it’s not this busy right now. But now the beaches are full, restaurants are full, last night you had to wait 20-30 minutes for almost all of them. It’s not usually like that. Even a year or two years ago it wasn’t like that,” Wayne said.

The main message from hotels for all the locals is to beat the rush of visitors flying in and book now.

If you are looking to save a few bucks on your staycation Rodriguez says you need to book early and call directly because in most cases you get a better rate when you call the hotel directly.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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