By Payton Buschhorn
It’s officially spring break season in Florida, and Tampa Bay is about to be more crowded than usual.
With Florida being the “Sunshine State,” spring breakers are drawn to the variety of beaches that line the coast. Tampa’s proximity to popular beaches, such as Clearwater and St. Petersburg, makes the area a popular destination amongst travelers.
The city is home to countless activities that draw tourists in. With the increase of people in Tampa Bay, there are bound to be more clusters of people.
With the University of Tampa’s location, students tend to face spring breakers in their favorite places away from campus.
Over the two years I have been a student at UT, spring breakers have not been a huge issue for me. I try to stay local during this time, so it hasn’t been a significant problem.
I think that the lasting impact spring breakers bring to Tampa is something rather positive, as tourism plays a big role in our economy.
In 2021, visitors spent roughly $4.5 billion in Hillsborough County, according to a presentation for Visit Tampa Bay titled “Economic Impact of Visitors in Tampa 2021” by Tourism Economics.
As of 2021, Hillsborough County had a total economic impact of $7.1 billion and 51,610 jobs generated by tourism alone.
The state of Florida alone relies on the impact of tourism to help fund the economy.
With the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, there were 12.2 million fewer people traveling.
Covid-19 resulted in an average unemployment rate of 8.1 in Florida in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
A large number of jobs in Florida are in the leisure and hospitality industry, and with the lack of tourism due to Covid, the unemployment rate in this department hit a high of 39.3% in April 2020.
In February 2023, this industry had an unemployment rate of 5.2%. They were able to come back due to the lift of Covid-19 restrictions, as tourists are back to traveling, and Florida is once again a hub for tourists.
In 2022, Hillsborough County reported in their 2022 Annual Economic Development
Indicators Report that $86,923,502 in hotel occupancy revenue, which was a 37% change from the previous year.
With the influx of people heading to Tampa or the Clearwater/St. Pete area, the usually calm Tampa International Airport (TPA) is picking up pace, and flights to Florida can get tricky.
TPA announced on its website on March 2, that they are expecting this spring break season to be the busiest yet.
TPA usually gets around 60,000 passengers, but it is expected to be closer to 76,000 passengers a day from March 7 to April 10. On the weekends, the airport could potentially see around 90,000 passengers.
With the large influx of passengers coming to Tampa, traffic will be more prominent during this time of the year.
Resident college students seem to be annoyed with the crowds at their favorite places to visit during this time of the year.
UT senior Megan Curtner lives about 15 minutes away from campus without traffic, but that changes during the spring break season.
“They’re horrible, they’re annoying, they’re obnoxious and they make me have to drive 10 times more,” said Curtner.
Due to things I have heard about the craziness during this time of the year, I tend to try and avoid the popular going-out “hot spots” in Tampa that I know will be crowded. This causes an inconvenience as the usually relaxing beaches tend to be a place I steer clear of due to the large crowds around this time.
While I do think the spring breakers are a positive thing for the Tampa economy, that does not mean I necessarily like having the city busy to the point of wanting to stay away.
Driving on I-275 is something I do not enjoy, the normally hectic highway becomes even worse and makes me want to stay on campus even more.
If the beach is not the only thing spring breakers want to do, Ybor City attracts numerous college students looking for lively nightlife during spring break.
The nightlife in Ybor City gives visitors an opportunity for a night out somewhere not far from the city of Tampa. With the influx of people hoping for a good time, Tampa’s nightlife becomes more crowded due to the visitors and college students that occupy the area.
The busy Ybor City is a place I steer away from due to the size of the crowds that end up lining the streets.
Tourism is vital for our economy, and while it can be annoying at times to change plans due to the number of people, it is needed for our city to continue running as it does.