VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — While the end of summer isn’t always viewed as a positive — especially by school-aged children — many Oceanfront business owners were wearing a smile as the Labor Day weekend concluded.
Aside from staffing struggles that caused some restaurants to adjust their hours, business was steady when the doors were open.
Capt. Skip Feller, owner of Rudee Tours, said his business may end up having the best year they’ve ever had. Feller operates a fleet of three fishing headboats, a dolphin watching catamaran and the Rudee Rocket speedboat.
“It’s going to be ranked right up there with them, yeah. It might not end up being the best, but it’s going to be one of the tops,” Feller said.
Feller credits much of the extra passenger load to people wanting to just “get out” after quarantining for much of 2020.
Feller’s business was forced to shut down during the early days of the pandemic and relied on the Paycheck Protection Program to get by.
“Last year was a big hit. You know we we did stay going as with reduced capacity and everything it was tough but this year being back, I think everybody being pinned up last year. So we were kind of expecting it to be back to normal,” Feller said.
The Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau highlighted their efforts to target visitors from “drivable” locations because of the pandemic, and Feller believes that may have also played a role.
“We have a lot of out-of-towners. Ohio is a big state people come from,” Feller said. “Lots of people every day that have never seen the ocean.”
Amanda Lewis, 36, was one of the Ohioans that laid her eyes on the Atlantic for the first time Labor Day.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Lewis said of her initial reaction. “Just wow. It’s so big.”