Tampa visitors ding city for panhandling policy on TripAdvisor

After officials in St Augustine’s tourism marketing business jumped into action this afternoon, the highly utilized travel authority, TripAdvisor.com, removed criticism by one of their users who reported their derogatory experience with panhandlers during their visit over the past three days.

The TripAdvisor user, “Everythingirl1” wrote that she and her family traveled to St Augustine from Tampa, but ended up returning home early because of her unpleasant encounters with panhandlers.

“While panhandling may have existed in the past, it was like nothing that we observed this past weekend,” the visitor wrote on TripAdvisor. “Just about every single block had 2-3 panhandlers – either sitting on benches or on the floor.”

The comments made by the visitor were removed by TripAdvisor staff at 1:05 p.m. today, according to the website.

“Many were holding signs and being quite aggressive such as making comments or walking towards you if you did not give them money or ignored their calls to you,” she wrote. “Quite a few looked high or intoxicated. I was traveling with children and women, and we frankly did not feel safe in the outer streets of the historic Square, which are not usually very lit or very populated after about 6:00 p.m.”

When the visitor, who is part of the TripAdvisor travel community, described how the experience affected her and her family, she wrote that the problem was bad enough to make them leave early yesterday.

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