Destin businesses seeing huge increases this spring break

Annie Blanks
The Destin Log

Destin businesses say they have seen a boost in business since the beginning of spring break 2017.

Tim Edwards, co-owner of Fudpuckers, said his restaurants in Destin and Okaloosa Island have seen a healthy spring break so far.

“The first week that we saw tourists was pretty busy compared to last year,” Edwards said. “The next two weeks were not nearly as busy. But we’re looking at higher occupancy rates this week and next, and we expect that we’re going to have a good spring break when all is said and done.”

Rental agencies are seeing an increase in bookings and occupancy rates this year as well. Tracy Louthain, director of marketing and communications for Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, said the agency, which operates rental units in Destin, Miramar Beach and along 30A, has seen a 12.3 percent increase in occupancy compared to spring break 2016.

“Spring break pretty much started around March 11 for us, and there has been a steady incline in the amount of guests coming over the past few weeks,” Louthain said. “This past Saturday, April 1, we had 179 arrivals — I think we just set a new record at Newman-Dailey.”

Richard Olivarez, director of marketing for Ocean Reef Resorts, which represents 450 rental units between Destin and South Walton, said the company is also seeing significant increases this year compared to years prior.

“This year, spring and spring break are trending positively and we are seeing double digit increases in both occupancy and revenue versus 2016,” Olivarez said via email. “This week we are 100 percent occupied with vacationing families, as it is spring break for many schools in Atlanta.”

Louthain said she suspects that the highly publicized zero-tolerance policy instituted by the sheriffs of Okaloosa and Walton counties has had a direct positive effect on the rental company’s business.

“I feel like we’re really back to that family audience,” she said. “We have a strict 25 years or older (to rent) policy, but we haven’t had a lot of people trying to sneak around that policy…we’re a family-friendly destination, and we want to keep this destination welcoming for those families.”