Tourism officials expect banner Memorial Day weekend

Dusty Ricketts | Daily News
Published: Friday, May 24, 2013 at 03:02 PM.

Locals better get ready for large crowds, long waits and traffic backups.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff for the summer tourist season, and expectations are high that this will be the busiest Memorial Day ever in Northwest Florida.

“We are meeting our expectations and we’re up over last year,” said Laurie Hobbs, marketing director for the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. “We’re optimistic that we’re going to come close to selling out at least one day out of the holiday weekend. With us having more than 1,200 units, everything from hotel rooms to four-bedroom villas, that’s pretty exciting.

“We’re seeing very strong occupancy from Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Hobbs added.

Reservations already are up slightly compared to last year, but Hobbs said the resort will have to wait until after the holiday to know by how much it exceeded 2012.

In addition to the leisure demand, Hobbs said reservations have been strong from associations and corporate groups.

Dan O’Byrne, tourist development director for Okaloosa County, said several lodging properties he’s heard from are sold out. The TDC has updated its website to offer special rates to help fill vacancies that still remain at some properties.

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