Snow birds return to South Florida

Business already increasing in Palm Beach County

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - South Florida typically doesn't see snow; however, snow does bring us a lot of business. Every winter, those bitter northern temperatures send thousands of seasonal residents and visitors south. The Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates at least 150-thousand snow birds will flock to our area. While they're enjoying South Florida's sunshine, they're also bringing some much needed warmth to our economy.

Expect to see a lot more traffic in West Palm Beach and all around South Florida. Server Jessica Johnston is looking forward to more diners at Duffy's Sports Bar and Grill and some good tips.

"Honestly, it really helps a lot," she said. "There's a big difference in seasons down here and we really look forward to this time of year."

Duffy's manager, John Smith said business is so good during the winter months, they'll hire more servers.

"We'll bring up another 15% hopefully in business and we'll bring in 15% more staff so that would equate to another ten jobs, I think, at least," he explained. "That's great for everyone. Any time we can provide more jobs, we're happy to do it."

Palm Beach County will see more hospitality jobs and tourism dollars as local hotels and condominiums fill up. The Tourism Development Council of Palm Beach County said last winter, occupancy was over 77%. As the council hopes to increase that figure, life in downtown West Palm Beach is already busy with tourists like Becky and George Queen. The Queens are retired school teachers from Rittman, Ohio who have been wintering in Palm Beach County for years.

"We like to go do some of the nightlife around the area," said George Queen, "either here in Palm Beach or Lake Worth where we live. We like to do the beach, the pool. Things we can't do up in Ohio."

"We like to spend our extra cash in Lake Worth and West Palm Beach," admitted Becky Queen, "and we've even done Fort Lauderdale and Miami as well."

Shawn Wolf, the owner of Palm Beach Segway Tours, said at least half of their business this time of year is from people just like the Queens.

"Within the last couple of weeks, business has definitely doubled, if not tripled," he said.

Snow birds usually stay through March or April. The slowest tourism time for Florida is during the hot summer months when seasonal residents and visitors typically head north again.

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