Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida on February 5, 2014 · A6
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Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida · A6

St. Petersburg, Florida
Issue Date:
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
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6A | W ednesday , Febr ua ry 5 , 20 14 | T ampa B ay T imes * * * * surf of T ampa Ba y. “Never mind W all Street, ” read one New Yo rk City sign. “I nves t in some sun. ” “No L oop. But this circ ular thing called the sun, ” said one ad s tretched across a bus that refers to C hicag o’ s business district. “W e salt margaritas, not sidewalks, ” said one partic ular subway ad draped in snow outside a Canal Street station in New Yo rk Cit y’ s C hinatown. “F rom the tweets and some of the feedback we ’ re ge t ting is tha t they ’ re loving t he m essaging ,” said Minich. “T he y’ re thinking we do need to come down there and salt some margaritas instead of sidewalks. “It’ s resonating with them because it is speaking to them as New Y orkers instead of just a g eneric ‘H ey i t’ s warm, it ’s sunn y, come on down ’ ad. ” T he new “U nlock T ampa Ba y” brand — designed to sell T ampa as a warm-weathe r, urban a nd c ultural complement to the Pinellas beaches — is also enjoying a s trong reception up north, according to CEO Santiago Corrada of the H illsborough tourism agenc y Visit Ta m pa Ba y. H illsborough ’s hotels enjoyed a s trong fourth quarter i n the end of 2013, and C orrada d oesn ’t see that let ting up in the f irst quarter of 20 14 . “W e’ re expecting increases in a verage daily rates, ” he said, “and we ’ re seeing increases in occ u- pancy rates. ” I n Pinellas, hoteliers are reporting that their bookings are already reaching full capacity for the next four months of the winter touris t season, according to M inich. “T here is some av ailabilit y in the interior of thecount y, ” he said, “but the prime beachfront proper ties, the big proper ties, are already ge t ting full on certain peak days. “I think we ’ re looking at a really great winter season. To the tourism industr y, this is what the C hristmas season is to retailers. ” To n y Sat terfield, the vice pres- i dent of operations at A l den Suites resort in St. Pe te Beach, reported more specific numbers: his bookings for J anuar y 20 14 were up 25 percent compared to the same month in 2013. Right now F ebruar y 20 14 is up 6 percent, M arch 20 14 is up 10 percent and April 20 14 is up 17 percent compared to the same months in 2013, he said. “W e’r e of f to a great s tart, ” Satterfield said. “E ver ything right now i ndicates a s trong w inter season. ” Another metric of success is the number of people who are checking out Visit St. Pe te- C lear water ’s winter web address (ineedsun. com): W ebsite visits were up 107 percent and page visits were up 120 percent in J anuar y 20 14 compared to J anuar y 2013. Winter storms, though, h av e also canceled or delayed thousands of flights across the U nited States and dozens in and out of Ta m pa I nternational Airport. What kind of immediate ef fect is that ha ving on local tourism? N ot much of one, actually . “It’ s a m ixed bag ,” M inich said. T he disruption in air tra vel hasn ’t really led to a discernible drop in business, M inich said. Visitors whose flights are being delayed or canceled are not canceling their trips to the bay area. They’ re just ge t ting here l a ter . Conversel y, those who are already in T ampa Bay ha ve to spend extra time here waiting to ge t a f light home, M inich said. Sat terfield said his resort’ s guests told him that e ven the ba y area’ s less ideal weather — last week was c ool, gray and wet — beats any of the cold, snowy and icy days back home. “W hat I h a ve been hearin g consistently is that the weather is just so bad that they had to ge t out, ” he said. “E ven last week, when the weather was questionable, I was told by a guest that ‘It’ s 60 here and r aining , but it ’s six degrees where I ’m from. ’ ” J amal Thalji can be r eached thalji@ tampabay.com or (813) 226 -3404. F ollow him on T witter @j thalji . . TOURISM co n tinued fr om 1 A Harsh winter weather boosts Tampa Bay tourism Fr om t he f ro nt p age > tampabay .com f or the latest news Snowstorms inundating much of U.S. Los Angeles Times Fo r as much as t wo-thirds of the U nited States, this has, indeed, been the winter of our discontent. Ev en as a harsh storm was dropping as much as 10 inches of snow on parts of the M id- west, especially Kansas, that same system was moving east and was expected to make the e vening commute and this morning’ s drives to work a miserable experience in the Nor th- east. After a snowstorm earlier this week, a third storm is gathering and is expected to hit at the end of the weekend and into the early part of M onda y. Winter s torm w arnings were posted for more than a dozen states where well more than one-third of the nation ’s population lives. Where there weren ’t warnings, there were advisories. T he hea vy snow closed schools throughout the region where many places were repor ting tha t t he days lost t o weather were piling up almost as high as the drifts outside. I ndiana, for e xample, has some areas where schools were closed for a full week in J anuar y because of the weather and road conditions. M ore t han 3, 700 flights were d elayed on T uesda y, and mor e than 1,200 were canceled by midda y, according to Flighta- ware.com, a website that tracks air traf f ic. Records were buried in snow piles. Detroit, for e xample, recorded 39. 1 inches of snow in J anuar y , a record for the month, and Ne w Yo rk City received almost 2 feet more snow than in most other years. I n C hicago, the s torm marked the 33 rd and 34 th days of measurable snow this season, according to the Chicag o T ribune .

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