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Who Said That?

"We were prepared for an OK April and May. I'm happy to say I was wrong."

-- Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County

Tourism typically takes a holiday in May, marking the official end to the high travel season and the start of a summer lull.

But in an unexpected boost to regional visitor industries, Sarasota County shattered records for total tourists and spending last month that had been set in 2012.

In Manatee County, the number of May visitors was up 7.1 percent, and direct spending rose 13.2 percent, continuing a surge that puts the two-county area on pace for another record year in 2013.

The numbers are significant because both counties were bracing for a visitor drop-off, the result of an earlier-than-normal Easter holiday — when many tourists and winter snowbirds depart Southwest Florida.

Read more at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.