Preparing for record spring break crowds

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Spring break travelers at the airport. Credit: WINK News

Spring break is a month away for some areas, and those in the tourism industry expect the 2022 break will bring more visitors to Florida than in years past, which brings challenges: How will local businesses unable to keep full staff be able to cope?

The last couple of years with COVID-19 put a real dent in people’s vacation plans, and many are now eager to return to their travel traditions.

Paul Beirnes, executive director of the Naples, Marco Island and Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau thinks that 2022 will be a record-breaking year compared to 2021, setting a whole new benchmark for Southwest Florida.

“I do believe we’re going to see people spending more visiting those destinations that they have longed to and just simply reconnecting with their family in a way that wasn’t just in the front living room or their backyard but, rather, where they really want to be,” Beirnes said.

On the other side of things is the lingering anxiety around staffing concerns. Will businesses like hotels and restaurants be able to handle the volume of travelers we will see starting next week? Service may not look the same as it did five years ago at five-star hotels and restaurants. Beirnes says it will certainly impact the excellence of hospitality visitors have grown used to, but also says restaurants and hotels have done a wonderful job of recovering and creating the idea of a comfortable new normal.

“I do believe that travelers will see a difference in in the expanse of that hospitality that they will experience, but it won’t be so [noticeable] that they will have a bad experience,” Beirnes said. “I think people, even in their hometown, have grown accustomed to accepting a little less than perfection, because the fact is that there is a big shortage in the hospitality industry.”

With Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day around the corner, we could start to see spring breakers starting at the end of February.

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