Record year for tourism

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Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 2:55 pm | Updated: 9:36 am, Mon May 5, 2014.

SARASOTA COUNTY, FL - Our weather is something which is helping to bring more and more people to the Suncoast. In fact tourism officials say 2013 was a record year for the area. Breaking records from just last year.

Those with Visit Sarasota County say those visiting the county last year increased by 4% from 2012. Manatee County is up 6%. Hotels seeing double digit growth. The numbers across the state are up too.

The majority of visitors coming from within the state. However, an early winter up north is expected to push more people this way in 2014 as well. Especially those in the midwest which is the largest area visitors are coming from outside the state. "What it is doing is motivating people to travel more. We got a call yesterday in the visitors center from a woman in Minnesota who said it was 30 degrees below zero. I need a rental. I don't care what it is. I don't care what the price is. Can you help me?" says Virginia Haley with Visit Sarasota County.

Some of the travel delays having an impact getting people here recently but it's also keeping some from being able to leave. Visit Sarasota County says the biggest concern is not having enough hotel rooms. They say March for example, 96% of the areas hotel rooms are already booked. Many of the flights are also booked causing more to drive.

A big concern they say is the loss of Warm Mineral Springs in North Port. Especially for bringing in Eastern European guests.

We will have much more on this story coming up on ABC 7 this evening.

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