ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- As we say goodbye to summer 2013, St. Johns County businesses are saying hello to a heftier bottom line, thanks to a busier-than-normal travel season.
According to Kim Kiff, the general manager of Ripley's Believe It or Not, this year's crowds have been some of the best she has seen in three years.
"I have to say that this has been a fantastic year," said Kiff.
Kiff's sentiment is shared by many businesses that Action News spoke to. By all accounts, St. Johns County came out on the winning end this summer travel season.
Glenn Hastings, executive director of the Tourist Development Council, says this year's spike is thanks in part to help from a statewide marketing campaign that put the area front and center.
"We had the historic re-enactments and everything going on, Viva Florida 500, which focused a lot of attention on St. Johns County," said Hastings.
According to Hastings, visitors spent $468 million over the first six months of this year. That's a 4-percent increase over the same period. Lodging was also up 2 percent compared to last year.
But it's not all good news. St. Augustine’s outdoor attractions showed a slight decline in ticket sales in June and July.
"Those are more sensitive to the weather and probably have suffered a little bit in terms of sales because of the rain we had the first two months (of summer)," said Hastings.
Despite that decline, Hastings says it was not enough to stop this year's overall growth.
According to Hastings, these are only preliminary figures but so far have remained strong.