COVID-19 continues to have a big impact on businesses across Washington state, but some small tourist towns are seeing more customers than they have in the past.
Fresh fish is what Westport is known for, and deep -sea fishing draws people to town all summer long. This year, businesses have been extra busy.
“Our boat launch was packed. We had an overflow of cars. The slips were full. Our charter boats were out fishing with full boats — so much activity,” said Molly Bold, Westport Marina’s business manager.
During the pandemic, people are swapping plane rides for road trips. For many, that means a family vacation on the coast.
“It’s a getaway that a lot may not have realized that is in your own backyard,” said Adrienne Jones, co-owner of Tides and Anchors Boutique.
This year, Westport has already seen 10,000 more cars at local state parks than it did in 2019.
“There’s a huge surfing community here. People are crabbing off the docks and catching their own fish for the first time, and that’s what’s special. There are so many new faces in town and so many people calling our office who’ve never been here before,” said Bold.
The people who come to Westport every year immediately noticed a difference.
“This is a lot more people than I expected. It wasn’t this crowded last year when we came down,” said Jerry Gonia.
Tourists aren't just in town to hang out on the water, — they're also shopping at local stores, such as Tides and Anchors Boutique.
“I would definitely say July was a busier -than -normal month for us. And for most people that I’ve talked to, I feel like they’re saying the same thing as well,” said Jones.
When they get hungry, tourists stop at family--owned restaurants, such as Blue Buoy Restaurant, for a bite to eat.
“We’re happy to share our community with them and share the good seafood and everything we have to offer,” said Erin Snider, owner of Blue Buoy Restaurant.
Because of COVID-19, tourist season got off to a rocky start. Stores were closed, and restaurants could only do takeout.
“This March, April and May, we really operated at kind of a loss, so this is making up for and carrying us through,” said Snider.
The current boom in business is a saving grace.