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Panama City Beach Open For Spring Break Amid Hurricane Recovery

Panama City Beach
Timothy Dykes

It’s now March, and Panama City Beach is gearing up for Spring Break. But unlike years past, this tourist season is especially important to the area’s economy.

Some hotels on Panama City Beach are booked, housing not only tourists but also displaced residents from Hurricane Michael. Others are undergoing renovations due to storm damage.

Carol Dover is the CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. She says she hopes spring breakers will bring needed funds to the Panama City Beach area.

“Tourism is still the economic engine," Dover said. "It doesn’t matter if you’re local or state. So you need tourists in your community to continue to bring the sales tax revenue, the bed tax revenue. That’s what rebuilds the areas.”

Janice Lucas is the vice chair for Rebuild Bay County. She says Panama City proper is still recovering from the storm, Panama City Beach is open for business.

“Panama City Beach was saved, it survived the storm," Lucas said. "And they’re ready to receive Spring Break customers who are ready to come down to Panama City.”

Casey Chapter is a graduate student at Florida State University studying Public Interest Media & Communication. She got her start in journalism at the FSView & Florida Flambeau, where she served as a reporter, News Editor, and eventually Managing Editor. She has previously reported on COVID-19 and K-12 education for the Tallahassee Democrat, and currently serves as the Managing Editor of the Florida Student News Watch, a journalism program that aims to get students and recent graduates' work published with a focus on environmental reporting.