South Padre Island prepares for increase in tourism following influx of visitors
South Padre Island saw large crowds over the weekend, and now business owners are hoping the surge brings a significant economic boost to the area.
City leaders and business owners say the big crowds are proof of what could be a busy outlook for Spring and Summer tourism on the island.
"The island has seen a real influx of travelers because there is a demand," Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Ed Caum, said. "People want to be where? Outdoors, doing things outside, safely with friends and family."
The South Padre Police Department is stepping up safety efforts by increasing patrol and regulating traffic and security.
SPI Police Chief Claudine O'Carroll said they've increased staffing levels on the weekends to ensure the public stays safe while on the island.
Small businesses across the island also are embracing the influx of visitors.
Michael Sularz is the part-owner of the family-owned business D'Pizza Joint on SPI. Sularz said he hopes the tourism season will allow his business to recover from last year's revenue losses.
"It was a real bad hit, especially when we had to shut down the in-store dining for so many months," Sularz said. "But we're hoping so, we're cautiously optimistic."