PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (AP) - New laws to clean up spring break in Panama City Beach drove students elsewhere in March. Now business leaders are reporting big losses.
The Bay County Tourist Development Council says bed tax collections plunged from $2 million in March 2015 to $1.2 million last month.
Those bed tax collections are down about 13 percent overall for the fiscal year that began in October. The council's director, Dan Rowe, tells The News Herald that the local economy took a $40 million hit from the decline in spring break business.
The new laws included a ban on drinking on the beach. Counts Oakes Resort Properties president Andy Phillips said at a council workshop Thursday that the new laws also scared away families, not just rowdy students.