The 4th of July Holiday weekend should be a big part of another big summer tourism season in Escambia County. Pensacola Beach is as popular now as it has ever been. Vacancies this summer are few and far between and tourism officials hope 2016 will follow a recent trend.

“If you look back in the last three years we’ve had increases every year over the last three years,” said Visit Pensacola’s Steve Hayes.

Last summer, compared to 2014, the average visitor stay rose more than 20-percent, the average amount people spent rose almost 11-percent, and local lodging tax revenues were up almost 9-percent. Hayes  says there are some reasons for jumps.

“I think some of that advertising that BP was doing about the area bit also the fact that we’ve consolidated a lot of our messaging about what you can do here,” he said.

Messaging and advertising are great but you have to have the product and there’s no question about the quality of Northwest Florida beaches.They sell themselves. But Hayes says have a vibrant, quaint, and historic city like Pensacola nearby doesn’t hurt.

“Not only do you have the dining and entertainment right there but the arts and culture and boutique shopping. You have that all right there and then you take the drive over the bridge and you get to Pensacola Beach.”

Hayes says Birmingham, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, and Dallas are the area’s top drawing markets.