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      South Padre Island business expect boost this Spring Break

      They've been trickling in to South Padre Island since late February - college students from as far away as South Dakota, Michigan and Wisconsin looking for warm beaches to spend their time-off from school.

      Inertia tours founder Chad Hart said bookings for Padre-bound college students is up nearly 40 percent.

      He said the downed economy and violence across the border is actually helping out South Padre Island.

      "The high price of fuel and gasoline has affected the price of an airline ticket to go international," Hart said.

      "So it's definitely a lot of people can load in their modernized SUV and drive down here. Business as far as Mexico, Spring Break is down between 90 and 95 percent versus last year."

      South Padre Island cost effective and safe?

      It was a combination too good to refuse for some South Dakota vacationers.

      "Well, there's six of us and we all drove down so we're like splitting it up, so it's been pretty cheap for all of us the way we break it down," Jackie Fitzgerald said.

      What matters to business owners here is not how these students are spending their money, but that they continue dishing out the cash for the most popular items.

      Sufian Heshesh, owner of Island Market, said so far the most popular items have been sunscreen, beer and kegs.

      Heshesh said he's predicting a 50 percent increase in business this year at his store.

      For fellow island business owner Arnie Crening of Coastal Lifestyle Rental Properties, things haven't been too shabby either.

      He said his 150 upscale rental properties are nearly all booked.

      "I'm anticipating that business is going to be excellent this year," Crening said. "So far early warning signs show that (it is)."