Tourism dollars flocking into Sarasota, despite the pandemic

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 8:55 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - COVID-19 cases are rising across the country, and Sarasota is no exception. And in a state that thrives on people traveling and gathering, tourism officials are wondering if the new wave poses an economic threat

Visit Sarasota’s Virginia Haley said the Suncoast hasn’t seen many issues yet, but it could be coming. While November and December were excellent financially, some clouds may be on the horizon.

Haley said travel issues, especially with flights, have hurt the bottom line here on the Suncoast to start the year. But some businesses, like the popular sunset cruise rides, have been filled.

“There’s been some really full cruises, and people are not scared down here,” said Sara Barnard, a crew member with LeBarge Tropical Cruises. “It’s been really, really nice. Everyone’s very positive, happy.”

“We have both shots, and we’re boosted,” David Imel told ABC7. “I mean, you just got to continue on with life. You can’t let it scare you to death.”

And despite those COVID-19 cases, there’s a constant on the Suncoast that keeps tourists filling boats.

“The weather. I mean, look around, the palm trees, the sunshine, blue skies. It’s amazing,” said Barnard.

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