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Tampa Bay Businesses Brace for Spring Break Crowds Amid High Gas Prices

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - With the average national cost of a gallon of gas reaching record highs, some Tampa bay businesses are taking a close look at their current business models as spring breakers infiltrate the bay area.

"Nothing throws us for a loop anymore," said Capt. Wendy Longman, Windsong Charters and Boat Rentals in Pasco County. "The Windsong turns 20 years old this year. So yeah, we have gone through hurricanes, we have gone through the Great Recession right after the Great Recession was the BP oil spill."

The cost of a gallon of gas is at an all time high, reaching a national average of $4.32 Thursday according to AAA. Gas prices have steadily increased since last year and shot up higher since Russia invaded Ukraine. The previous highest cost for a gallon of gas was $4.11 back in 2008.

But charging for fuel and other necessities is essential for boating businesses across Tampa Bay.

"We're running pontoon boats. They're relatively fuel efficient for…. for a boat," said Captain Wendy Longman. "But, then, we have to use the premium non-ethanol marine fuel which is already more expensive." And after 20 years Captain Longman runs a tight ship, so she's keeping watch. "Right now, the response that we've gotten from some people is they are pleasantly surprised that their gas bull has been 25 to 30 dollars for the day," she said. "[I'm] telling people, 'you know, you want to run full ball, you're going to use a whole lot more gas. But, for the most part, most people are just going out to Anclote Key and coming back, so you're looking at less than $25… at today's price."

According to a survey from AAA, 52% of Americans have plans to take a vacation this summer. Of those, 42% said they wouldn't change travel plans due to the price of gas. And this makes business owners like Captain Wendy very happy.

"But as far as a plan B, if I have to enact it, then we'll figure out what it is on paper," she said. "You do what you have to do, so.."

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