VENICE, FL - 2013 was a record year for tourism here on the Suncoast and across the state. This year a lingering cold snap up north perhaps giving an even bigger push.
Area beaches are packed. So are many restaurants and parking lots. Good for the local economy but also a strain to meet some demands.
A look down the coastline in Venice these days and you can see there are plenty flocking to the area. A line outside of Sharky's restaurant to start the day. The Jetties and downtown Venice are packed too.
February and March are typically the busiest times of the year for visitors here. However, many we talked to say this year so far it's even more. Saying the constant cold in the northeast and midwest pushing more this way. "The cold definitely played a factor. It was kind of a last minute decision to get in the car and drive down," says Sean Neuman who just came from Chicago.
Locals like Rich Lubanski are seeing it too. "It's busy. I don't know that I have ever seen it this busy in the past few years. Must be a lot of people escaping the cold weather."
It's on top of Florida's record breaking 95 million visitors from last year. A 3.5% increase from 2012.