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Snowbird season underway in South Florida

Posted at 8:35 AM, Oct 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-17 08:35:31-04

You might already notice it, but something feels a little different in Palm Beach County. More traffic and more people.

As tourism season kicks off, beware as prices increase for hotels, dining and golf courses across South Florida.

“That's the feeling you get sometimes. You know when the summer comes it's quiet. And then all of the sudden, here we are again!" said Judy Dickinson, head golf instructor who helps run the West Palm Beach Municipal Golf Course. “I noticed a big change people are starting to come back in town, our members are coming back."

Rates at golf courses, for example, are expected to go up in the next few months. One golf course in Delray Beach is raising rates from $32 to $75.

"Right now, we're $29 then we might add $10. Our biggest bump is in November, then we might inch up a couple of more dollars in December," said Dickinson. "Everybody in the county has a different time table when they change their prices."

Dickinson said price increases across the market -- from restaurants to retail and hotels -- stem from the need to hire more people to meet demand.

"I put on more staff for the season. You obviously have to have good customer service," she said.

According to county data, about 145,000 snowbirds flock to Palm Beach County each year, raising the population by 11 percent. There's even more staggering numbers for the entire state, with close to 1 million seasonal residents expected.

“This is the time of year where we start getting excited," said Ian Black, director of Group Sales at the Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach.

Black said it might be harder and take longer to book hotels throughout the state. Some rates may also increase.

"We do a Florida residents rate in the summer time. But we might not necessarily do that in January, February, March and April," he said.

Luckily, plane ticket prices won’t increase too much because more flights are added, especially from Canada.

“Flight availability increases -- they put more flights on from the major destinations," said Black. "I think the key to anything, especially in season coming to Florida is flexibility. If you've got flexibility in your schedule, you'll find better deals.

Hurricane Irma did cause a lot of negative publicity for the state but the Florida's tourism organization, VISIT FLORIDA, has a recovery campaign ongoing right now on social media and advertising, which will go on for the next month.