Manatee County sees tourism boom

Published: May. 14, 2021 at 9:07 PM EDT
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BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - March was a record-setting month for Suncoast tourism. Hotels are full, restaurants are packed and Manatee County is reaping the benefits.

Anna Maria Oyster Bar is only at 50% capacity, but they’re already pushing to keep up with all the extra business they’re getting.

“All four of our locations, everybody is busy in Manatee and Sarasota County,” John Horne, the bar’s owner, said. “So we’re floating between the four restaurants, just making sure everybody’s on duty, we’re working overtime.”

The county made over three million dollars in bed tax in March - over 15% higher than at the same time in 2019. Some hotels are booked through the summer.

“I tell [visitors] when they call, especially on the weekends, that the island is pretty full,” Eric Buehler, general manager at Haley’s Motel, said. “And you’re probably not going to find anything for the weekend.”

This time of year isn’t a usually heavy tourist season for the Suncoast, either. Once summer rolls around after Mother’s Day, the crowds are gone, away from hurricane season.

Business owners say this doesn’t quite erase the sting of 2020 and all the lost revenue, but it’s a good start.

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