Destinations around the country searching for tourists

by May 26, 2008 • 5 comments

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” has been swapped for “do Vegas right now.” According to the New York Times, the slogan was swapped for something that had a stronger call to action.

It is no secret that the cost of living is going up in real time. With gas prices here quickly approaching 4 bucks a gallon, the cost to travel is also quickly becoming a huge deciding factor on where people are going, if they are going at all.

In the New York Times article, Urgency Replaces Subtlety in Summer’s Struggle for Visitors, the second destination mentioned as making a change in their advertising direction was Panama City Beach. Peter Yesawich was quoted, “There is a palpable nervousness on the part of everybody in the industry.” “We’ve seen some of these conditions individually,” Mr. Yesawich said, referring to problems like high fuel prices and reduced capacity on airlines, “but never all of them at once.”

The article also quotes Dan Rowe as saying they had 10 days from conceptual approval to having a live campaign. I guess that’s why the creative on is so weak.

Other entities trying to maintain sales this summer include credit card companies, rental car companies and of course, accommodations. Hertz is offering 50% off weekend rates. Extended Stay Hotels are offering $59 nights.

Marketers admit that people still want to go on vacation and that they just have to cater to the travelers emotion.

Yesawich presented a study in January that concluded that if gas prices hit $3.50 a gallon that travelers would change or alter their travel plans in some way and if gas prices rose above $4 a gallon that travelers would make significant changes to their plan which may include cancellation in the extreme and most likely a decrease in distance traveled or total length of vacation at the minimum.

My wife and I went to Calypsos Beach Cafe Friday night to pick up a take out order and heard one of the employees saying they were already way off for the year and hoped to see a pick up in business soon.

On Wednesday, May 28 at 2pm at the Bay Point Marriott there will be a public workshop on the TDC/CVB Strategic Plan. Items of discussion will include will include long term plans to boost tourism. Discussion ideas range from creating new “demand generators” to enhancing the visitor experience in Panama City Beach.

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1 Webb Warren May 26, 2008 at 1:36 pm

The primary reason that Calypso is so far “off” on business from last year is the fact so much quality competition has opened. Calypso’s proximity to Pier Park is providing a migration of their normal crowd to just a block down the street. Calypso, and some other older establishments, will have to adapt to the changing market. Average food and average accomidations will suffer in the upcoming years. The traditional establishments that used to suffice because crowds “had to eat somewhere”. Now, you have to have a little “Lagniappe” to attract crowds. The newer establishments are creating a finickier customer.

With all the new condos and restaraunts now open, it is difficult to truly understand what the true baseline is to compare YOY traffic. Older establishments are going to take a hit this year because new condos and new restaraunts are going to siphon their business off. Some baselines to judge the traffic by is the TDC bedtax dollars, and, possibly a glance at overall water consumption YOY.

Some people believe that our overall traffic will be greater due to people not wanting to burn more gas driving to Disney or South Florida. I don’t necessarily believe that theory, but, who knows. I am anxious to see the TDC bedtax results.

Just my opinion…w3


2 Webb Warren May 26, 2008 at 1:42 pm

By the way…I did not state or mean that Calypso was an avg. restaraunt. Nor do I mean to slight the establishment in anyway. However, they are obviously suffering from so much new competition in such close proximity to their establishment.


3 Marion Laney May 26, 2008 at 3:52 pm

As an investor and Realtor along Florida’s Emerald Coast and the ForgottenGulf of Alabama (my term)I see an interesting trend. The scare I hear from rental managers in PCB and Destin about cancellations is not reflected in the properties on Dauphin Island and Gulf Shores, Alabama. We are forecasting a record year for occupancy. Of course sales are lagging but that is due to many other factors. If anything the Alabama coast is benefiting from I-10’s passage within 30 minutes of Dauphin Island’s beaches when the traveler looks for a fuel saving. Florida should have long ago created a FAST DIRECT route to the Emerald Coast and it is now hurting from this lack of will.

I expect we will get use to these prices as the EuroZone has done but there will be a period of pain.

Marion-Realtor, Emerald Coast and Mobile/Dauphin Island


4 Terry May 26, 2008 at 6:38 pm

I just bought a condo in PCB this January and I actually expected the YOY revenues to drop due to the economy and the increase in new condos, (ie competition) but much to my surprise revenues,so far, are significantly up from last year,


5 Webb Warren May 27, 2008 at 12:28 pm

The word out of a few rental agencies in Destin and the Emerald Grand is that Memorial day occupancy was good. Traffic was up and that overall occupancy was as high as 91%. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that more visits were booked at the last moment and more were for 3-5 day vacations instead of 7 day vacations.

So, at first glance, we may be getting the visits but not the same tenure as past years. At least, that’s the word out of Destin.