Motorists cringe at rising cost of gas

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:26 AM.

Nagel said he has fueled up twice a week virtually every week at the Dodge’s store on Eglin Parkway in Fort Walton Beach for decades because prices are so much lower than in the Baker and Crestview areas.

With the region being one of the most popular drive-to destinations in Florida, gas prices are a concern for tourism professionals. Still, they believe tourists will continue to visit.

“I don’t think people are going to cancel their vacation to save $50,” said Kate Wilkes, director of the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council. “Maybe they’ll make (their vacation) a little shorter or they won’t go out to eat as much.

“Hopefully, if they have to change their vacation plans maybe they’ll make them not as long, maybe not spend as much money,” Wilkes added.

Dan O’Byrne, director of the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council, said rising gas prices are a factor, but tourists seem to accept it and continue with their plans.

“In a general sense, you’re concerned when any prices go up,” O’Byrne said. “But on the ground here, I’m a little more confident just because of the strength of this destination as a spring break host, the strength of our prebookings and the relative desirability for people to come here and perhaps trade on other things.

“Some travel around the United States has become a part of people’s DNA,” he added. “Spring breakers coming to the Gulf is something they’re going to do regardless of gas prices. If pushed to an extreme I guess they wouldn’t come, but that would have to be pretty high. They’re going come. They’re going to have their vacation. Maybe they won’t eat out as much.”

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