Delray Beach debating whether to push for more tourism

DELRAY Beach front — Right after a sluggish two decades, visitors are generating their way again to Delray Beach front, flocking to the city’s lively downtown on Atlantic Avenue at a speed which is established to exceed pre-pandemic concentrations.

But as tourism numbers start to rise, city officers are asking: How several travelers do we in fact want in Delray?

That’s the concern commissioners are grappling with as they craft the city’s extended-expression vision for tourism, together with no matter whether they should really include more infrastructure, these as motels, to accommodate a opportunity raise in demand.

“I never know how we can cram that a lot far more in with what is happening here,” Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia stated for the duration of a general public conference on Tuesday. “If you’re down below through season on a Saturday evening, it is mad.

“There’s genuinely been a long time period of time the place [residents] felt like website visitors in their have city, and some have stopped coming [downtown].”

Tourism has been a significant economic driver for the town, producing $876,000 day-to-day in immediate economic worth, a guide informed metropolis commissioners at the conference. Don Kolodz, president of Tourism Strategic Alternatives, said Delray Beach’s tourism numbers are at 96% of where the city was in 2019 and that it need to exceed that determine by year’s conclude.

As the town begins to “grow our tourism pie in conditions of visitation, we need to have to likely look at where do we need supplemental capacity in terms of resort rooms,” Kolodz added. “Is it out west? Is it downtown? In which is there land readily available?”

The topic of hotels will probable arrive up later on this 12 months as the town prepares to open bidding for a 6-acre parcel of land on the Delray Beach front Golfing Club. The virtually 100-12 months-aged golfing system requires roughly $10 million to $15 million to correct a selection of challenges, these kinds of as changing the drainpipes beneath the course and earning upgrades to the restrooms, upkeep facility and parking heaps.

Because of that steep value tag, Delray Beach is seeking for a developer to finance the repairs. In exchange, the city is willing to give up 6 acres of the course bordering Atlantic Avenue for a foreseeable future combined-use growth.

Adding accommodations, however, does not seem to be to be a primary precedence for the metropolis. Delray Seaside has found an inflow of new resorts in the downtown space with The Ray Resort opening in 2021 and a Hampton Inn by Hilton slated for 2023.

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Metropolis Commissioner Ryan Boylston stated he’s not pushing for far more lodges, noting the the latest additions and the increase in home-sharing choices, such as Airbnb.

“Those can erode neighborhoods and communities since then you really do not have people today doing work here entire time,” Boylston explained. “We really don’t want to stay in a tourist metropolis. We want to are living in a wonderful metropolis with a vibrant downtown that individuals want to visit, but it is a high-quality line.

“Daytona, Panama Metropolis, even the beachside of Fort Lauderdale — they’ve viewed how difficult it is to wind that back. You get the significant ups and the major downs of remaining a vacationer-based metropolis.”

As an alternative of pushing for much more travellers, Petrolia stated, the key aim should really be re-engaging with citizens and “making them experience like they are genuinely invited.”

She extra: “We previously are a vacationer desired destination. We previously are accomplishing [tourism numbers that] a good deal of sites desire they could get to. How numerous website visitors do we truly want to convey in outside of what we’re already obtaining, particularly for the duration of the top of our year?”

City Commissioner Juli Casale shared a similar sentiment, suggesting the town could likely partner with neighborhood resorts to give offers with features like spas geared toward folks seeking for staycations.

“When the resorts have much less ability in the off-year, the much better method for us vs. attempting to cultivate a ton of new [tourists] is to test and fill in the gaps when our present-day enterprises are slow,” Casale mentioned.

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