BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Like communities across the country, the Space Coast economy took a serious hit in 2020, but Brevard County officials now say the numbers are rebounding higher than pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.

What You Need To Know

  • Brevard County economy is rocketing upward from even 2019 levels

  • Tourist tax revenue shot up to $5.3 million from March to May, officials say

  • That was 9% higher than for the same period in 2019, before the pandemic

  • The 2021 numbers do not include revenue from cruises, either

Gourmet dog treats are always on the menu at Cocoa Village's Tails at the Barkery, but 2020 was no wagging matter.

"Was the most challenging year any small business, or business, could face," Tails at the Barkery owner Pam Shaia says.

The canine eatery lost 80% of its business as the pandemic wore on. The business does not take online orders but had enough support from customers calling in to keep the doors open.

"As you remember, the streets were very bare, and it was very lonely down here," Shaia says.

Pete Cranis of the Space Coast Office of Tourism says, "We lost $265 million in visitor spending last year."

But the local economy is looking up now  — way up — he says.

"March of this year we began to turn around, and we are now back the other way," Cranis says.

From March to May 2021, numbers are up 9% percent at $5.3 million in tourist tax revenue, shattering the prepandemic record in 2019 of $4.8 million.

And that's without cruising, which accounts for 20% of Space Coast tourism. The first passenger cruise is expected to return July 31, when the Carnival Mardi Gras resumes sailings.

"It only bodes well for the summer, and we get into July and the fall,” Cranis says. “I think we are really going to benefit from that." 

Sales at Tails at the Barkery reflect the economic rebound, and Shaia says she looks forward to more two- and four-legged friends coming back through the door.

"The last few months have been (going) extremely well," Shaia says. "Everybody's still shopping small, which we greatly appreciate."