PORT ARANSAS, Texas – The community of Port Aransas is hoping for a successful Memorial Day weekend after businesses took a major hit when they were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We feel like we are the party destination," said Vanessa Garcia, general manager at Bernie’s Beach House.
Garcia said the last time business was booming was spring break, but days after that, things took a turn.
“We knew that things were going to diminish, and then we were forced to close,” she said.
Other businesses were also forced to close. The island relies on tourists, but there was a drop in numbers over the past two months.
Texas Sandfest, which is one of Port Aransas’ biggest events, was postponed until October.
“That was pretty hard for everybody here on the island,” said Glen Shaw, owner of Island Motor Bikes.
Shaw said his business was deemed essential because he provides a repair service. He said the spring and summer seasons are usually a busy time for him.
However, Shaw’s business took a hit with fewer people going out to the beach.
“We did a lot of repairs and stuff like that, but we didn’t rent anything,” Shaw said.
As Texas begins to reopen, many on the island are anticipating Memorial Day weekend to a busy one.
The Port Aransas Visitor’s Bureau reported an increase in bookings of hotels and condos for the upcoming holiday.
Beaches reopened last month, and businesses are welcoming customers back in. Bars are also ready to begin operating but under Gov. Greg Abbott’s guidelines.
However, this isn’t the first time the community faced adversity. Hurricane Harvey had left a trail of destruction in 2017, but life on the island bounced back.
“We did a fantastic job, and people were amazed at how quickly we got back in business,” said Keith McMullin, interim CEO of the Port Aransas Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau.
McMullin said the hurricane was a testament to the community’s resilience, which COVID-19 had put to the test.
“Harvey was a blessing, and then it sort of showed us the way on how to how to do it,” he said.