Volusia County hotels expect big crowds for Memorial Day weekend

As restrictions and fears tied to the coronavirus pandemic continue to ease, big crowds are anticipated for Memorial Day weekend in Volusia and Flagler counties, an expectation that bodes well for a strong summer season, according to hotel managers and tourism officials.

“I’m expecting Memorial Day to be sold-out,” said Bob Davis, president and CEO of the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County. Davis said that he was astonished at the crowded hotel parking lots early this week on his morning commute along State Road A1A.

“It’s amazing what’s going on, even now,” Davis said. “I came down the avenue at 5:30, 6 a.m. this morning and every hotel was packed with cars. The summer has started.”

At the same time the summer influx is arriving, area shorelines also are experiencing another annual ritual: Thick clumps of brown Sargassum seaweed began carpeting Volusia and Flagler counties’ beaches last week, tangled piles of seaweed that emit a powerful, unpleasant odor.

More:Sargassum seaweed makes its return to Volusia-Flagler coast, but maybe that’s not so bad

Beachgoers take to the sand this week in Daytona Beach. Hoteliers expect t be at capacity for the Memorial Day weekend holiday, kicking off what is anticipated to be a busy summer season.

Yet the crowds are still expected, part of an estimated 37 million-plus people who are expected to travel 50 miles or more over the holiday weekend, according to AAA auto club. That’s a 60% increase from last year, when only 23 million traveled, the lowest on record since AAA began recording in 2000.

In Florida, more than 2 million residents are forecast to take a holiday weekend trip, a 62% increase over pandemic-affected Memorial Day weekend in 2020.