An interview with Hernando County Tourism Development Director Tammy Heon
Q: How many tourists visit Hernando Beach per year and where are they from for the most part?
TH: Hernando County’s visitors in the winter and spring months are primarily traveling down the I-75 corridor, some starting all the way from Canada, and including Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and then into Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. The average trip is 3-4 days and generally includes outdoor recreation activities including cycling, kayaking, and fishing. In the Summer and Fall, we see more Floridians. Our number one visitor is another Floridian, though they definitely avail themselves of our less crowded season, particularly scallop diving.
Q: Are they day-trippers or overnight visitors?
TH: We see both day-trippers and overnight guests. It’s much harder to approximate the day-trippers, but we know they are avid fans of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, our fishing and scalloping, and our trails.
Q: What is the biggest attraction in Hernando Beach?
TH: I would say the biggest attraction in the Beach is probably the Gulf of Mexico. The number of rental boats available thru marinas, hoteliers, and private rentals is growing exponentially. Of course, the Weeki Wachee Preserve is another popular destination for hiking and bird-watching.
Q: How is Hernando Beach different from other coastal Florida communities?
TH: The biggest difference is probably the lack of a beach! It creates a few challenges from a marketing perspective, but there are so many opportunities to enjoy the Gulf, with either a rental boat or your own, it’s enormously popular.
Q: Is there a tourism season in Hernando Beach?
There are two main seasons; the winter “snow-bird” season, where we see a great number of Canadians (when we’re not having a pandemic) and those from the northern states. Then in the summer, scallop diving season is incredibly popular with both other Floridians and those from around the southeast. Pasco County now has a short, 2 week Scallop Season, but we are still the southernmost region that has a full season for recreational scallop diving. Our fishing is also incredibly popular, and again, draws a great number of Floridians to our shores. Golf, while not in HB, is another activity that draws folks from south Florida to our region as it’s much cooler here.
Q: What accommodations are available in Hernando Beach? We've heard that vacation rentals are increasing in the area.
TH: We have approximately 475 vacation rental homes in Hernando County, the majority of them are in Hernando Beach, in addition to the Hernando Beach Motel and The Captain’s House. We’ve seen a notable increase in TDT collections from Vacation Rental Homes, particularly during the pandemic. These days they contribute about 30% of our collections. The majority of the homes in HB have 2 or 3 bedrooms, allowing for parties of 4-6 comfortably.