GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — As we move into fall along the Gulf Coast, you can almost hear a huge exhale as the summer tourism season comes to a close.

“It started thinning out a couple of weeks ago,” says Pete Snyder, finishing up another day at the beach.

Against all odds, President and CEO of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach Tourism Herb Malone says it was another record year for Alabama beaches. “This summer was great. In fact, it was so great it was scary.”

Occupancy rates of condos, beach houses, and other rental properties in June and July were near 100 percent according to Malone. “95 percent, 98 percent is a full house.” August numbers aren’t official yet, but Malone says they are trending in the same direction.

Another tell-tale sign for tourism officials — the number of cars in parking lots and on the roadways. “Everywhere,” Snyder said. “It was the worse summer ever for traffic.”

Even in the middle of a pandemic, the explanation for a record number of tourists is tried and true according to Malone — “Whenever we are having bad times people don’t want to stay home. They’re going to get out and go somewhere.” Again, this summer’s destination was Alabama’s beaches.