Gulf of Mexico
Lazy Day Beach Service attendant Trevor Fritz chats with customer Lori Forte, from Kansas City, Mo., at Pensacola Beach on June 16, 2020. Many beach businesses are seeing a steady increase in activity since reopening from the COVID-19 shutdown. Tony Giberson/tgiberson@pnj.com

FL - Locals pack Pensacola Beach during coronavirus pandemic. But will tourists follow?

Unlike nearly every other spring, Crabs and Flounder's Chowder House on Pensacola Beach have relied primarily on locals for support over the last few months as the coronavirus pandemic forced closures and canceled vacation plans.

But as the economy has started to reopen, partner Amy Martin said she has started seeing more tourists patronize her businesses, especially as hotel bookings increase.

While her businesses likely won’t recover the revenue lost this spring, Martin said sales over recent weekends have felt as busy as last summer.

"Especially even in the gift shops, we were totally being supported by all the locals, and now you can see a lot more of the tourists," Martin said. "The big hot thing right now is where can you go in a five-hour drive, or a four-hour drive or a two-hour drive? I really think that has so much to do with why we were so popular and having all the locals come out, which normally they don’t."

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