5 Ways PCB’s New Airport Will Help Your Business

by June 8, 2009 • 23 comments

As Panama City Beach prepares for a new airport slated to be taking in flights by this time next year, many question how the airport is really going to benefit their businesses. Well, here is your answer…actually, five of them.

1. More People = More Money

This is the easiest reason. Obviously, with the completion of the new airport, Panama City Beach will be able to reach new markets it could not before. In addition to opening direct travel channels that previously did not exist, current feeder markets will be more encouraged to fly into Panama City Beach because of the significantly cheaper rates than PFN. The lure of the one-hour flight will just be too much for markets like Atlanta and Birmingham exposing Panama City Beach to the “disposable income” demographic. Panama City Beach will see a significant increase in the amount of travelers, in turn, an increase in revenue for just about everyone.

2. Real Estate Value

Panama City Beach has already seen considerable growth in developments over the last 5 years. The new airport is expected to both accelerate that growth as well as open the gates to investors. There have been all sorts of theories on whether PCB will see a “boom” in real estate growth or a “gradual incline” but regardless, businesses will benefit. Investors will be attracted by the new airport’s effect on Panama City Beach inexorably boosting economic return on private capital. When the overall value increases so too will things like, say…I dunno…room rates? Cha-Ching.

3. Re-Introduction, “Hello, New York, My Name Is…”

The new airport presents a unique opportunity very difficult to come by for any tourist destination. Panama City Beach has been labeled as the “Redneck Riviera” and most people who’ve visited the city have visited it previously and are knowledgeable about the resorts and hotels and attractions. The effect the new airport will have on the destination’s ability to re-invent itself will be invaluable. Equally, every accommodation and attraction throughout the beach will be presented the same opportunity. You get to retell your story however you like. If you haven’t started getting ready for advertising and marketing, now is the time, because you’ll get one shot to show a new group of people that you’re worth spending money.

4. Opportunity For A New Season

This hasn’t been talked about much, but should be considered. Panama City Beach’s biggest encumbrance is its seasonal activity. All over the beach establishments close for three months or more out of the year to accommodate the severe lag in business. With the new airport completed coupled with TDC/CVB efforts to create off-season tourist-attracting events, what used to be a seasonal-lag may become a goldmine. Imagine if the business you do during peak season continues at nearly the same rate all the way to December? With the ability to create flight package deals, this may be the next step in PCB evolution.

5. Morale – The Domino Effect

Initially, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but consider the overall economic impact the new airport will have on the beach. More jobs, more money and better pay makes for happy people. What we’ve seen over the last few years, the increase in the developments, the CRA projects and now the negotiations in adopting form-based design regulations are direct results of the new airport. What you will have in the coming years is a more beautiful and happier city than ever before. I don’t know about you, but that may be the most valuable consequence of all.

These are our 5, do you have more?

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1 Jason Koertge June 8, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Bravo, Cebo, great article.


2 Michele June 9, 2009 at 7:17 am

Any news on what airlines will be flying into the new airport? It would be nice if the new markets (especially non-stop markets) were known, so the TDC could start targeting those areas.

Also, in order to “Re-introduce” and reinvent PCB, we actually have to do some reinventing and culture change. In my experience, PCB is the same old kids party atmosphere (actually, I think it has gotten worse over the last few years), with big condo buildings in the background.


3 Chris June 9, 2009 at 7:41 am

Call me cynical, but there’s a lot of kool-aid being consumed. The top 5 benefits are pretty weak. How will the new airport really accomplish what the current one cannot? What businesses will see the positive affects? Certainly not manufacturing businesses. Business people who are required to travel for work will continue to drive to VPS and TLH to catch cheaper non-stop flights. I hope I’m proved wrong.


4 Howell Hooper June 9, 2009 at 9:42 am

Mr. Campbell,

The 5 ways PCB airport will help were good articles, and I appreciate the time and effort to write them. Not intending to be critical, I have a suggestion for future writing. There are two cases of misusing the word “affect” in paragraphs #2 and #3. It happens all the time in newspapers, but it still bugs me. Affect is a verb or verb transitive meaning to have an effect on; to influence. Effect is a noun e.g. a law of little effect or he spoke to this effect. In paragraph #2 above “the new airport’s affect on Panama City Beach” should read the “the new airport’s effect on….”. In paragraph #3 “The affect the new” should read “The effect the new”… Thanks for the article.


5 Kelly Spencer June 9, 2009 at 10:54 am

Great article. Anyone who thinks optimism about the airport equals “kool aid” drinking is sadly misguided. The truth is..even if there is not an immediate boom, the airport will drastically effect the Panama City Beach environment. It already has!!! All one has to do to see this is to take a look at Pier Park. I have a condo in the area and just rented to some long-time Destin travellers. She called me on their way back home and has already booked for next year. They were thrilled with what I call the “new PCB”. I believe all of these changes (including Pier Park and new retail outlets) are a result of the new airport and the many kool aid drinkers who trust that easier access to the area equals increased travel and travellers.


6 Cebo Campbell June 9, 2009 at 11:59 am

I love a good English lesson, thanks Howell.


7 Larry June 10, 2009 at 8:36 am

If we do not have a major airline commit we have no more than what we have now. If a major carrier would commit to fly in from the north or north east the condo sales problem would be solved. Maybe the airport could make some concession to help an airline (SWAL) make a commitment. Good Luck to us all, we are all in this mess together.


8 Isaac Eiland-Hall June 10, 2009 at 10:37 am

I think Pier Park is one of the biggest changes. There’s a similar outdoor ‘mall’ over in Destin that my wife and I had been to a couple of times after we moved here, and it really contributed to the sense of this-is-a-very-nice-area that Destin has. I think Pier Park has got to be one of the best things to happen to PCB. Another thing that will help – the road projects. Beckri—er, I mean… R L Jackson (who? Okay… Beckrich) looks and functions so much better… It really makes a huge difference in how people (at least those who drive) feel about a place. Increase the perceived luxury, and you increase their happiness. That’s the whole point of nice hotels and condos with their landscaping and marble and granite…

I think the new airport’s location will be a fantastic help – and it would be even better if they could landscape 79 from West Bay all the way to the beach and make it look tropical and lush and verdant. It’s a nice looking plain road right now – but with landscaping, it would really make PCB look tons better, and increase the perception of luxury and desirability. And once the project to make Front Beach look that way too finishes — I think that will have a very large positive effect on repeat visitors.

I know so many people think the new airport is a boondoggle – a waste of money. But perception is a large part of how this stuff works, and for beach travelers, landing on the beach side would be a boon – they’ll be in more constant beach mode. They’ll be closer to the beach, and I think in the long run, all the changes will come together.

I “can’t wait” to hear all the people griping two weeks after the new airport opens — “See! Nothing! No changes! Wasted money!” — but it will take longer than that. Look to 2011-2012 for some real changes that will slowly creep up on all the haters. 😉


9 Sherry June 11, 2009 at 8:26 am

the new airport is the primary reason we purchased a condo in PCB. We are traveling from AZ. Currently it takes 10-12 hours door to door to get from our home to PCB. That is unrealistic for people to travel from Denver, Utah, Nevada etc…All of these land-locked states want to go to the beach and California beaches can’t compare to the Florida beaches. The competition is Mexico or Hawaii. With a convenient airport with low cost airfares it will change the demographics of who is coming to visit PCB. We can’t wait for the new airport and we hope the CRA continues with the much needed upgrades like burying utility lines, widening roads and great landscaping…


10 Lauretta Thompson June 12, 2009 at 5:38 am

I am very curious does any one have any solid information about non stop flights from the northern metro areas ie: JFK, Newark Liberty, Philadelphia being available when the new airport opens.


11 Jason Koertge June 12, 2009 at 6:34 am

We won’t know anything about that until the main carrier is announced. I’ve been told that we can expect an announcement in the next few months. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.


12 Steve Bailey June 12, 2009 at 8:51 pm

I cannot wait till they announce Redfish Airline!


13 christine June 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm

we are from philadelphia and have a condo at AQUA in PCB near Pier Park that we just purchased in Nov 08 in antcipation of the new airport coming.

we are keeping our fingers crossed that Southwest Airlines will be flying to PCB from Philadelphia.

we are thrilled with the new Pier Park and what it has done to improve the image of PCB.

Our condo rentals this year are very strong, we are about 90% booked for this summer.


14 Walter Kraszewski June 15, 2009 at 9:46 am

My guess the big carrier that everyone is hoping for will be none other then one that already comes to PCB, Delta Airlines. Having purchased North West they have already started cutting N.W. flights from the North opting instead to increasing Delta Flights thru their big hub, Atlanta then on to PCB.

Who will they bring? Spring Breakers by the BIG plane full ready to trash our beaches, destroy the inside of beautiful condos and rough up our residents.

When the TDC stops taking in what other cities have discarded lets talk again. Until then just get ready
for more kids, larger piles of trash, more property distruction, and larger quanties of vomit and poop left for condo owners to clean up.

Can’t wait until I can sell and get out!


15 Isaac Eiland-Hall June 15, 2009 at 11:42 am

Spring Breakers who bring in lots of money?

If you can complain about them, can I complain about all the slow driving retirees coming down to winter?

I haven’t heard about locals being roughed up…

And I’m sure trash volume increases a bit during spring break – but there’s advantages and disadvantages to any situation.

I’m just not comfortable with hyperbole like yours. I really don’t think it’s an accurate depiction of the combination of problems and blessings all the groups that visit us are. None of them are perfect — but they are a big part of the local budget; and we bring joy to so many visitors.

You have a right to your opinion, of course. Everyone does. And perhaps you’re right and I’m wrong — but of course, I don’t think that’s the case. 😉


16 Walter Kraszewski June 15, 2009 at 6:48 pm

You need to spend some time in the ER during Spring
Break and see the pictures that never make it into the newspapers. After that spend some time cleaning up vomit from plugged sinks and toilets in condos and human feces found on the beach and spread on the inside walls of condo elevators along with urine found in corridors and stairwells. I bet you’d gain more appreciation for our Snowbirds.

Think about it. No city has ever gotten rid of Snowbirds but they sure dumped Spring Breakers regardless of the money they brought in. Why because
they wanted more respect for their cities, residents, beaches and businesses. They wanted to become a more desirable place for family vacations. They simply grew up.


17 Luther June 24, 2009 at 7:40 am

What with all the hoopla concerning the new airport, I’m wondering why speculation has not been forth-coming about the great opportunities for freight hubs here in Bay County. We have a deep water port, railroad to Huntsville, long haul trucking capabilities, and many means of storage and transfer. Tourists and snow-birds are not a year-round gold mine. Heavy freight and industry is! Methinks possibilities abound. Remember, a service economy does not generate wealth. Innovation and maximum use of resources do.


18 Colton Weeks June 24, 2009 at 11:18 am

My partner and I have a place that we rent in Rosemary Beach – and we’re watching the airport progress very closely – all the way from San Francisco! As it is, we choose to fly into New Orleans instead of PCB. We think (and hope) the new airport will at the very least offer us some better flight choices. Has anyone seen the flight maps lately? The map that shows how many flights are in the air at any given time? The PCB zone is currently a dark zone and I expect that will change quite rapidly with the new and expanded airport. It can’t stay the redneck riviera forever – it’s way to beautiful down there. So cheer up PCB, you have a LOT to look forward to, even if it does mean shedding the redneck riviera moniker.


19 Binks June 25, 2009 at 10:08 am

The thought of Southwest Airlines coming into the airport really helped push us over the edge on our recent purchase of a home in Sandestin. While it is not PCB, it will help with revenues and real estate there and all over the panhandle. Worse case scenario, we drive down 6 hours. Best case, Southwest flies in there. Take a shuttle 34 miles to our home.

It can’t hurt the economy down there, it will only help. Anything is better than nothing.


20 bob June 29, 2009 at 4:06 am

I’m failing to see how the discussion I am replying to relates to the topic of the thoughtful article above. Feces on elevators during spring break? Come on! You were young once, is that how you remember spending spring break? Do you really think that occurs so frequently that it is fair to depict all spring breakers that way? It’s too bad that your perceptions of spring breakers is based on one or two anecdotal experiences.

From a business standpoint, the three weeks that the students pump revenues through the economy offsets many weeks of unimpressive tourist activity. Yeah, there are a few bad apples, but I can tell you, the locals who are running the hotels/clubs/bars the students flock to have a hang of things by now. I had a great time during spring break, and I didn’t witness any “feces on elevators”, nor did anyone in my group go to the E.R. I did see thousands of students everywhere, who were helping the businesses directly, and the community indirectly via the amount of sales tax the city was able to collect.


21 charles hammond July 12, 2009 at 1:27 am

in my opinion..it is hard to imagine significant change to a region without an interstate highway link…an international airport is only the first step…charles hammond, denver ,co


22 Jellen July 12, 2009 at 7:12 pm

I hope the new airport gets another airline besides Delta/NWA. Now that it is one company, not two, Delta has greatly increased ticket prices. I don’t want to lose Delta, but PCB needs competition. People in northern states can fly to Florida destinations farther south in two hours for 30% of the price of a ticket to PCB. There always was a difference, but that difference has really grown! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a true choice in carriers.

Also, I completely agree with Isaac’s comments in #8 (but not #15). Lush, tropical landscaping, and good maintenance of that landscaping, would set an upscale mood and ‘upscale’ is the term we have heard so often in the voicing of expectations.