Florida joins the tourism wave with record arrivals ... Porter starts Myrtle Beach
Tourism numbers appear to be up just about everywhere these days. I seem to get alerts most every day about great numbers in New York and British Columbia, not to mention the sounding of "didn't we do good" trumpets in Los Angeles and even Manitoba.
Perhaps more important psychologically, it's the highest number since 2007. Which means the bad old days of warnings about oil spills and all seem to be - temporarily anyway - behind them.
State officials said the rebound was helped largely by a hike in visitors from Brazil - a group President Obama is courting rather strongly - and by a dramatic turnaround in visits to the beaches up in the Panhandle, which have come on strong since the oil spill in 2010.
Visit Florida said they received a three per cent increase in domestic visitors and a 5.7 per cent hike in visits from Canadians. So take a bow, folks; you're helping a fine state boost its leading industry. But don't get too complacent; overseas visitors to the Sunshine State jumped a whopping 16 per cent.
PORTER TO MYRTLE BEACH STARTS UP AGAIN
A sure sign of spring is here. Not snowdrop leaves peeking up out of that small icy patch in the garden or the Leafs struggling to make the playoffs, but something better; as in Porter Airlines' returning to Myrtle Beach.
Porter's annual winter/spring service to that South Carolina mecca of sand and golf started this week with two weekly flights from the Toronto island airport. Service increases to four times a week from March 1 til April 30; prime season in Myrtle Beach.
Porter still offers the only direct air service between Myrtle and Canada.
I'd never been to Myrtle Beach until I took a golf trip last year. The beach was wide and long and pretty, the water was fairly warm in October and the golf was glorious. Good food down there, too; barbeque and increasingly sophisticated cuisine abounds. It's also dirt cheap compared to golf in a lot of parts of the world, with very good courses to be found for less than $50 and awesome ones if you're willing to go a little higher. I really liked Pine Lakes but absolutely fell in love with Caledonia Golf and Fish Club; as pretty a course (see photo at right) as you'll find anywhere in the world, and with atmosphere to spare.