Warm December means tourism boom in Bay Area

- Christmas is just days away, but you wouldn't know it judging by the weather on Clearwater Beach.

Lots of people are out enjoying it. Some locals want it to feel more like Christmas, but the weather is paying off for the Bay Area's biggest industry - tourism.

We met the Tracy family who decided to take advantage of an inexpensive flight to come to Clearwater.

"It's 27 degrees in Traverse City, Michigan," says Tom Tracy, who owns a barbershop there.

The Tracys are staying at a beach hotel through Tuesday. They're among the thousands of tourists enjoying the winter sunshine.

"I know the locals want it cooler so they can put their jackets on and light their fireplaces, but in terms of tourism, the number one economic generator, this is what moves things forward for us," says David Downing, executive director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

Downing says 100,000 people earn their livings directly from the local tourism industry, with a $10 billion impact on the local economy.

He says 2017 has been a record year for tourism and the warm weather is powering a larger-than-normal winter tourism season.

"When we get streaks of weather like we're getting right now for the holidays and you get colder weather up north, it creates a situation that does the advertising for us," says Downing.

It worked for the Tracys, who are much warmer here than in Traverse City. 

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