The early sponge industry created a need for eating places at the Docks for the boat crews. Soon, as news of this unusual industry spread, people began to come to the Docks to see the sponges. Shops opened so that the tourists could purchase sponges and other souvenirs. The tourism industry blossomed in Tarpon Springs. Some of the original shops remain at the Docks today, owned by the same families that started them. Through the years more shops have opened, putting the number at well over 100 today. There are approximately fifteen restaurants in the Sponge Docks area, several of them internationally known.