INDIALANTIC, Fla. - FOX 35 Orlando uncovered the state’s tourism numbers fell by more than 34 million people in 2020 due to the pandemic.
As summer approaches, Visit Florida and other organizations around the state are working overtime to bounce back.
But, official tourism agencies aren’t the only one’s urging travelers to come back.
One Florida visitor is so passionate about her winter destination home, she’s built a website to share her secret escape with the world.
"It is the quintessential beachside town," Stacey Marmolejo said. She winters in Florida, but by May, she and her husband head back north to Minnesota. She Zoomed with FOX 35 to talk about a special spot on the Space Coast. "They bring that love and caring and concern to everything they do and I feel it in every place I go in."
Stacey says during the pandemic, she and her husband found themselves driving down the coast. On that trip, she discovered a town of just 2,865 people. It’s called Indialantic.
Those from Florida may know the name, but Stacey says many people she has talked to, including here in the Sunshine State and back home in Minnesota, say they haven’t heard of the beach town.
She said her niece who has lived in Florida all of her life didn’t know the name, citing that "It should be an option for every vacationer."
That’s why Stacey and her husband purchased a winter home in Indialantic over the winter.
Instead of retiring, she is now turning her passion for the sea life on the Space Coast into an online love letter of sorts. She created a website called Florida Beach Break. It highlights many local businesses, outdoor activities, and opportunities for travelers.
Stacey also claims it’s one of the most affordable destinations on the beach in Florida.
"One side is, ‘Oh my gosh, I found this magical place in America that nobody knows about.' You need to know about it, but then the other side of it is about purpose-filled travel," she said.
While Stacey says she has not monetized the site, she may in the future.
"More and more people are looking for unique destinations and unique activities," said Edyta Satchell, with Stachell Global Travel Wellness.
She says she is seeing trends in purpose-filled travel, an idea that could serve Florida’s road to recovery.
Brevard County reports it is still seeing a lull in travelers, showing a 16 percent decrease in travel from the beginning of 2021 compared to 2020. Though, Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism says last January and February, Florida was not shut down yet.
On Tuesday, Visit Orlando is hosting its first in-person tourism convention to map the city’s recovery effort for the tourism industry. Both the CEO for Visit Florida and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will speak.
The meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Orange County Convention Center.
FOX 35 also spoke with the local surf shop, The Longboard House, in Indialantic. The shop says it took a hit last year.
"Of course our numbers took a tumble a little bit," said Jordan Wools, a keyholder with the Longboard House. He added that travelers are starting to come back though, especially since mandates began lifting and the vaccine rolled out.
Stacey says she hopes it is a sign tourism will bounce back and so will local businesses in her favorite destination.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.