Whereas 2020 was traditionally the yr that everyone was stuck at home, 2021 got here fast on its heels as a record-breaking yr for Pensacola tourism.

There have been questions whether or not that momentum would carry into 2022 as soon as folks acquired over their preliminary restlessness to journey, nevertheless early numbers point out that Pensacola Seaside is on monitor for yet one more profitable tourism season.

Go to Pensacola’s quarterly snapshot from January to March of 2022 exhibits a 20% improve in guests compared to 2021. A number of the key causes included the reopening of the Pensacola Bay Bridge in 2022, extra attraction to Pensacola’s particular occasions and a rise of promoting of town.

The visitors appears to be closely regional, as 18% of Pensacola’s guests have been recognized to be coming from one other a part of Florida, adopted by Alabama at 11%, then Texas at 6%.

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Nonetheless, as excited vacationers put together for his or her annual seashore trip, some household’s price range considerations have additionally risen with every spherical of rising fuel costs.

Rick Harper, director of the UWF Workplace of financial growth and engagement, would not anticipate the rise to be sufficient to cancel plans to Pensacola altogether, largely as a result of it is primarily a drivable trip vacation spot.

“The truth that we’re mainly a drive-to market implies that we’re going to be the online beneficiary of a number of the substitution within the trip market,” Harper stated. “Households which may have thought of flying from Chicago to Disney World, they could nicely discover that these tickets are too costly. And so they could as a substitute undertake the day-and-a-half drive to return to Northwest Florida.

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“(They might) keep away from the excessive value of theme park tickets and keep in, maybe, not a resort on the seashore, however they may be switching to an Airbnb on the town at a cheaper price that accommodates the entire household.”

Escambia County Commissioner Robert Bender was additionally optimistic that journey to Pensacola will proceed regardless of the growing value of gas.

“For lots of our space, we’re one fuel tank away to get to paradise,” Bender stated. “It’s cheaper for a household of three to drive in than to fly.”

Although folks might not be nixing a getaway altogether, Harper added we might even see folks starting to chop again on bills whereas on their journey, similar to making extra meals at their short-term trip rental houses.

Gloria Lemmey, the proprietor of Pensacola’s Citrus Door Properties — or as she likes to say “chief hospitality fanatic” — stated that 2022 has been an remarkable yr for the Pensacola’s trip leases.

Lemmey manages a few dozen properties throughout Pensacola with totally different settings and themes, offering company with the alternatives from a historic house to a breezy beachfront.

“2022 has undoubtedly modified,” Lemmey stated. “The inflow of AirBNB’s and VRBO’s is unprecedented … the market is flooded with short-term leases. That is simply the newest enterprise mannequin of funding.”

Lemmey stated this development available in the market is a constructive change for customers seeking to trip in Pensacola, as a consequence of their improve in choices.

Consumers have  the posh of getting choosy with calls for for his or her keep, factoring in facilities similar to pool entry, walkability, or ocean views that each one have the facility to make or break an individual’s resolution to ebook, she stated.

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“Visitor experiences have been heightened,” she added.

The shift towards trip leases has additionally allowed for extra spur-of-the-moment getaways. Holidays that when would have been booked a yr prematurely at the moment are getting scheduled per week or 10-days forward of time.

The last-minute reserving flexibility appears to be interesting to guests, as three in 5 guests stated they deliberate to their journey to Pensacola a month or much less prematurely, in keeping with Go to Pensacola. Because the Airbnb business has continued to surge, resort occupancy is down by 5% in Pensacola in comparison with final yr.

Regardless of the robust competitors, the rising variety of vacationers in Pensacola means “there’s sufficient enterprise for all of us,” Lemmey stated.

Commissioner Bender stated town has gained numerous new tourism from the truth that Florida was one of many first locations to open again up when different elements of the nation have been nonetheless on lockdown.

Bender stated town can also be now seeing the outcomes of elevated promoting for Pensacola, which was capable of be completed utilizing federal Coronavirus Assist, Aid and Financial Safety Act funding.

Now, new developments and resorts going up on Pensacola Seaside are all aiming to accommodate the rise in tourism, Bender famous.

From a flight standpoint, Air Service Improvement Supervisor Erica Grancagnolo stated that Pensacola Worldwide Airport could attain new heights for the variety of air vacationers in 2022.

The yr 2019 drew about 2.2 million whole passengers for each departing and arriving flights, whereas 2021 ended up surpassing 2019 at 2.4 million.

Nonetheless, 2022 is on monitor to beat data, with about 1,021,518 passengers which have come via to this point this yr and the summer season tourism season simply beginning to attain full steam.

Wanting again at earlier years, from January via Could 2019, the variety of air passengers totaled about 921,678. In 2021, passengers in that very same time-frame fell to 793,164,

Grancagnolo stated the airport noticed a sudden passenger surge in the summertime 2021. This yr is displaying sturdy numbers, however in a extra normalized pattern line. 

“We’re most definitely anticipating a busy summer season season,” Grancagnolo stated. “Final summer season, we actually skilled that built-up COVID demand and needed to make changes.”

A number of the adjustments made to Pensacola’s airport over the previous yr have helped encourage tourism together with, the addition of over 300 new parking areas and a recent number of continuous flights.

2020 was additionally a time to mess around with the choices of continuous flights, because the market was so unpredictable as to the place folks have been touring anyway.

Now in 2022, the airways at Pensacola Worldwide Airport have now narrowed it all the way down to 19 constant continuous flights which might be continuously used and well-trafficked.

Vicky Reddish, a Tennessee-based advertising supervisor for the FloridaPanhandle.com, has written over 20 to 30 Florida journey guides and feels Pensacola is likely one of the finest locations to go to if you’re looking to spend on a budget.

Contemplating town’s wealthy historical past and army connections, she has at all times discovered a number of the most entertaining elements of her journey to be free.

Occasions like watching a Blue Angels practice, a historic tour or a visit to the Palafox Market have been all methods she would suggest that others discover Pensacola with no need to ebook an tour. 

“There are actually cool issues in Pensacola that don’t value cash,” Reddish stated. “I completely felt like I acquired the entire expertise, I undoubtedly caught to a price range and I acquired to see all the pieces.”


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