JUNO BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County tourism leaders have a new plan they hope will make people more comfortable visiting the area.
"We were impacted for about two months," said Jack Lighton, the president of Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach.
Lighton said COVID-19 crippled their daily operations.
"Mid-March through mid-May, that is a very critical tourism and visitation season. It’s Spring Break season, and it was very difficult. We have to work hard to offset the voluntary door donations we would’ve received from our guests," said Lighton.
However, Lighton said the break wasn’t all bad for the turtles.
"We noticed when access, human access to our beaches was restricted, we noticed an uptick in the behaviors that sea turtles display around nesting. They were nesting more effectively and maybe even a little more quickly when the beaches were closed," said Lighton.
Now that Loggerhead Marinelife Center is back open during a pandemic, cleanliness and sanitation are their top priorities. And soon they will have another resource that could help their visitation.
"I'm very excited about this certification for our community," said Lighton.
Palm Beach County is the first destination in Florida to pursue GBAC Star Accreditation.
"It’s a worldwide recognized accreditation program to provide very strict sanitation guidelines to facilities," said Jorge Pesquera, president of Discover the Palm Beaches.
Pesquera said his agency decided to invest in the accreditation to make sure local independent hotels and attractions weren’t being overshadowed by big brands who have access to the world’s best policies and procedures.
"It’s going to be a gradual slow process of regaining market share and regaining the trust of the public and this is a major step to communicate that we are committed to that process," said Pesquera.
To learn more about Loggerhead Marinelife Center, click here.