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The migration

March 15, 2012

I live in an area heavily supported by tourism.  It’s not the first time I’ve lived in such an area.  This area, however, attracts an entirely different breed of vacationer than Rapid City, South Dakota or the shores of Lake Huron.

By March this area is overrun with college students on spring break, as well as visiting families with school kids on spring break.  Traffic becomes obnoxiously congested and the trip that only two weeks ago took you ten minutes may very well now take you an hour or more.   Restaurants become impossibly crowded.  Beaches become shockingly littered.  And after a winter season of snowbirds (who tend to hang onto their wallets with a vengeance), money begins to flow into the area.  It keeps flowing as varying states and school systems take their breaks, usually making spring break season last at least a month.  And it’s no sooner over than the early summer vacationers arrive.

We need the boost tourism provides to this area.  The year of the BP oil spill was hard on the local economy.  After all, nobody really wants to go to an oiled beach…or have a destination beach wedding…or have beach photos taken of their family…or eat at open-air restaurants on the beach…or paint in the open air of the beach…or go deep sea fishing…or buy beach clothing…or eat seafood…or rent beach cottages…or anything if the beach is spoiled.  Though our beaches showed little visible effect of the spill, the fear was enough to keep people far away.  And it was hard on the local bank accounts.  All the more reason to be grateful for tourists.

But sometimes it’s hard to not get grumpy about it all.  Like when I’m stuck in traffic, surrounded by non-Florida license plates.  Or when there is a 2 hour wait for dinner between the months of March-September. Or when I can’t make or receive a text or phone call because AT&T did not take into account when they built cell towers the burgeoning spring break/summer population here .   Or when local gas stations jack their fuel prices.  It is inconvenient to accommodate our guests at times.  And sometimes our guests behave very badly, making it difficult to want to accommodate them.

Though I’ve lived here 15 years, it’s only been during the past two that I’ve become so acutely aware of the tourist cycles.  Working retail is a slap awake.  You KNOW when they’ve arrived.  You’re happy for the money they’re spending.  It’s nice to see them having a good time.

But you sure dread having to drive home.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    March 15, 2012 11:00 pm

    Well said!

  2. March 16, 2012 1:56 am

    I miss a lot about living in Destin. I didn’t mind the tourists much, because we ran a business dependent on those tourists. BUT, I don’t miss the traffic one bit!

  3. March 16, 2012 3:21 am

    Looking forward to adding to the economy. I’ll be sure and honk if I see you on the road. :)

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