SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — With Memorial Day weekend behind us, it’s now officially peak tourist season in the Coastal Empire.

Local hospitality experts said the holiday weekend brought strong crowds to Savannah and Tybee Island. Last June, July and August were the strongest months on record for visitors, a trend the president of Visit Savannah expects to see again.

“Looking back at what we’ve all been through the last two years the fact is people in this country work hard but they play hard too and they want to travel,” Joe Marinelli said. “Travel is always at or near the top of the list.”

Marinelli said hotels are reporting high occupancy from people driving in regionally and flying in from across the country. While last summer’s travel set a new record for Savannah, Marinelli said this time of year is typically strong for tourism — something that hasn’t always been true.

“June, July and August was one of the softest times of the year from a visitor perspective, but that’s not the case anymore,” Marinelli said. “Savannah has really emerged — Savannah and Tybee — have really emerged as ideal summer travel destinations.”

Businesses across the city are also reporting a busy weekend, with tourists even venturing outside downtown to areas like the Starland District.

“For us, it’s evolving in this neighborhood in general as it grows and folks downtown that are visiting extend their olive branch, if you will, and discover this neighborhood,” said Tyler Kopkas, owner and partner of Ardsley Station. “We’ve definitely seen a lot more tourists making their way out here which has been positive for us.”

After the first taste of summer 2022, businesses are staffing up in anticipation of busy weeks ahead.

“Our number one focus is the safety of our guests and providing them a great experience,” Kopkas said. “I’m hoping this summer, obviously, is a lot better than the previous two and we’ll be doing everything we possibly can to make sure that folks that do choose to dine with us feel safe and have a great experience.”

Later this week, Breeze Airways will begin nonstop service to Savannah/Hilton Head International from Columbus, Hartford and Providence as well as Los Angeles come July. Marinelli said opening travel from those cities will likely increase visitor numbers for this year.