The TDC is bringing MTV to Panama City Beach

by October 11, 2007 • 26 comments

The Tourist Development Council approved an arrangement to work with MTV for Spring Break 2008. The expected cost is $150,000 in TDC funds and $50,000 from local tourist properties. This arrangement was made under the urgings of YPartnership, the marketing firm leading the TDC’s marketing efforts for the Panama City Beach area.

I’m gonna back up here. I know I posted the other day about how spring break is a tourism necessity for our area and how the revenue dollars make up a good percentage of what our community thrives on, but I thought we were trying to get away from the “college spring break” and the “party-crazy atmosphere”. Wasn’t the cause of the whole TDC disbandment several months ago (maybe at the beginning of the summer, has it been that long?) because the “college spring break” was directly benefiting a local tourism business owner that had a majority influence over the decisions of how TDC funds were spent? Wasn’t everyone upset because Charlie Hilton had influence on the TDC to make marketing decisions that would drive business to his resorts that may be targeted to a younger crowd? What’s going on now? How is what is happening now different from what was happening then, other than it being a NEW board is essentially making the same decisions. Am I missing something?

I thought all the uproar at the beginning of the summer was because we were tired of the party crazy image this area has from all the years of being the “spring break capital of the world”. I thought the new TDC board was going to work miracles and make things totally different and set precedent for how this area is to be perceived over the next several years. I thought we were going to set in motion a transformation that would solidify this area as a true destination for families and higher end tourists.

I know many on the TDC board read pcbdaily, I also know that many who have influence over the decisions the TDC make read pcbdaily too. Please chime in and let us know how the decisions that are being made now are different from the decisions they were making months ago and even last year. Click on the “comments” link below to respond.

Also, what happened to the Other 96%? I thought they were huge proponents to “family spring break”? I haven’t heard a peep from them since the new board was appointed.

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1 Grace Lee October 12, 2007 at 12:06 pm

Support Jason!

More money should be spent to advertise PCB as a “FAMILY friendly beach”, instead of a “Party crazy beach”.

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2 Michele Beck October 13, 2007 at 9:22 am

I agree Jason. This is very upsetting. The 2007 spring break crowd was not only horribly behaved, but also caused a lot of property damage in PCB. Families do not want to come here and experience party hedonism, and condo investors do not want to purchase property to rent to spring breakers who trash it. If PCB wants to change its image, then it needs to quit catering to spring breakers for good. It will take years for the spring breakers to stop coming down here even if the TDC puts zero dollars toward marketing to them. PCB’s spring break reputation is not going to change if the TDC keeps spending money to support it.

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3 Chris Plyers October 13, 2007 at 11:45 am

Jason,

If the TDC really wanted to change Spring Break they would recommend that the County Commission pass ordinances that ban Free Beer, Wet T-Shirt Contests and Foam Parties. Free Beer at every hot-spot is passed our in pitchers. Why? So that the one 21 yo in the group can get “free” beer for all his 18-20 yo buddies while all employees look the other way (wink). They all get drunk and the craziness begins. Wet T-shirt Contests are down-right degredation to women (isn’t that basically what Joe Francis was locked up for?) and the Foam Party’s are a free excuse for girls to be man-handled and groped by throngs of drunk guys after their morals have been eased with the “free” beer.

TDC Board went from Hilton control to Chapman & Bennett control. Nothing has changed because Spring Break means millions of dollars in cash (and I stress the word “cash”) to businesses controlled by these “politically connected” Beach families. Seems like the Chapman’s are keeping a low profile while the Bennett’s are front and center on the Spring Break front with Sharky’s and Hammerhead Fred’s under their control. One would have to question whether their loyalties will lie with the Spring Breakers or their condo investors. The current evidence seems to speak for itself.

Chris

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4 Jim Boland October 15, 2007 at 10:53 pm

Can not believe this. We bought property to see if we would like to come to PCB to retire. Why????
Drunk kids, Drunk Motorcycle riders. In Georgia PCB is getting a reputation to stay away if you have family. But local kids go, “Let’s go we can drink every place on the beach.”

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5 Sheridan Gibson October 16, 2007 at 7:41 am

Jason is right…

I am new to the politics in Panama City Beach, but as a native of Northwest Florida and one who has worked for two Ritz-Carltons, The Breakers Hotel, and other luxury resort destinations around the world, as well as Private Equity!…I can tell you that bringing MTV is counter productive in attracting the super luxury resort brands to our shores. Anyone who knows what they are doing would not encourage this when we are trying to CHANGE the image and generate huge new revenues. It is the super luxury market (minus MTV) that will bring prosperity to this region. I can pretty much guarantee it! – It’s very simple, all you have to do is look at what Ft. Lauderdale did 30 years ago. They got rid of the spring breakers and MTV, and today it’s a premier destination spot for wealthy international travelers.

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6 Lori October 16, 2007 at 8:01 am

Who do we need to YELL this at? We do not want Spring Breakers in PCB anymore. Panama City/Bay County has gotten enough bad publicity in the past year. We don’t need anymore. Drunken teens and underage drinkers only get in trouble. Trouble we don’t need here. I have been a aresident of Panama City Beach since 1985 and a life long resident of Bay County. I have seen numerous “Spring Breakers” throw their trash out of their car windows. I don’t mean gum wrappers, but whole bags of garbage. I say send them away, don’t open the doors for them. Sharky’s has a playground. Why? Maybe they should target families for Spring Break and concentrate on selling food and sodas for families, not beer, beer, & alchohol to underage kids with friends who cana buy it for them. Families ultimatly spend more money because they can find great accommadations and they will actually eat at real food establishments. Again, who do we need to SHOUT this to?

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7 Chris Pitts October 16, 2007 at 9:42 am

All of these comments lack one very important part…what to replace College Spring Break with?

Everybody talks about family spring break, but do you know when family spring break is? Look at a calendar and see for yourself.

You have a select group of people that don’t want spring break. The TDC’s responsibility is to the majority, not the select few. Do you have any idea how many people that need SB to survive? Think of all the hospitality people, shops, hotels and restaurants that need that money. It last 3-4 weeks… that’s not too much to ask.

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8 Scott Seidler October 16, 2007 at 11:25 am

We are transplants who came here from Ft.Lauderdale in 03. We are very optomistic about the area but planning is crucial and the moment is critical.
I really hope we don’t have the same old same old with the newer composition of the TDC. Our reasons for reconstituting the board was valid. We need to head in the new progressive family oriented and professional direction but we must do so carefully. There does need to be a weaning process that keeps a current strong stream of income while definite steps are made towards a more family friendly and professionalized population base for the future. I think part of what we need to focus on is also developing the port of Panama City. If cruise ships would get here along with the airport the two sided approach will go a long way to enhancing our image to worldwide travellers. MTV is an overinvestment in the past and present which may do damage to the present and new future direction we need to take. We definitiely cannot instantly flush spring break down the tubes but our inclination must strongly build towards the newer future. I really hope we have not simply changed personalities on the TDC which ultimately are in kahootz with one another. That will prosper only a few who have longstanding influnce here we would all like to see a great quality of life and a prosperous future for the area held togehter in the delicate tension that it must be held togehter in.

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9 Sheridan Gibson October 16, 2007 at 11:36 am

Am I late on this? If so I apologize, but you replace Spring Break with…

A NEW COMMITMENT FROM THE TDC to market LUXURY HOTEL BRANDS that service the premier luxury markets. Our highest priority needs to become the introduction and promotion of new, luxury branded hotels such as Ritz-Carlton, Conrad, and Fairmont, etc. As opposed to the all-inclusive resort model of “flipping” guests, this model encourages their guests to stay and enjoy the property, which ultimately directly impacts the local economy. Moreover, many of these properties will include branded real estate in the form of condominiums and villas, thus ensuring a stable demand base that will return year after year!

FURTHER MORE…our Government Priorities(the TDC)should be, as foreign travellers and new domestic travellers within the US discover, and THEN RETURN, to Panama City Beach, the government needs to continue its promotion and development of the tourist ZONES, specifically the Down Town areas. In efforts to attract the participation of the private sector, the TDC will need to make concerted effort to improve the existing infrastructure to relieve congestion and pollution that is common in the popular tourist areas. To that end, the TDC needs to continueally work to improve its roads, ports, airports, water, power generation and public services. WE NEED TO ANNOUNCE WHAT OUR BUDGET IS FOR TOURISM-RELATED INFRASTRUCTURE TO THE GLOBAL PRIVATE SECTOR CAN HELP. What this includes is highway construction and repairs, revamping existing tourism areas, new aqueducts and water treatment plants, and beach re-nourishment projects, among others. This region needs to, as one of its expressed policies, provide tourists with great roads and clean water to ensure that Luxury Hotels will be built, WHICH WILL HELP TO STIMULATE THE LOCAL ECONOMY FOR YEARS TO COME!

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10 Mike Denton October 16, 2007 at 11:41 am

It really makes no sense for us to pay for advertising or money to MTV. Kids are going to come here without any advertising. We have always called it repeat business, and also word of mouth.

Once you come here, you want to come back. Why do we need to pay good money for business that already exist?

Is this due to pressure from motel/condo owners for fear of vacancies? (Read above-they are going to come anyway!}

Simply put: If you want change, then you have to start by making change. If you only duplicate what you have already done, you are only going to get the same results!

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11 Jason October 16, 2007 at 12:18 pm

I would be naive to say that we should cut out college spring break completely and immediately. Of course (as post 8 stated) we need to go through a process of weaning. The problem I see, however, is that there is not any evidence of cutting back the spring break efforts and replacing them with more family oriented marketing efforts. And to answer the question of when “family spring break” is, it is the same time as college spring break. Every year elementary, middle, and high schools release their kids on spring break to spend time with their families during the same time as the colleges do.

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12 Paul Jones - Paul@PanamaPaul.com October 16, 2007 at 6:54 pm

C’mon guys and gals….all this is crap….

Let’s not forget that Spring Break and “crazy college partying” built this beach and virtually built the TDC as well….

It’s nice for all of us to sit around and talk about how wonderful it will be to promote the “family friendly beach” angle…but…

Let’s go ask Daytona about promoting yourself as a “family beach” after you have spent a few years with that “spring break capitol” moniker….

Your economy goes miserably downhill and the community doesn’t make enough to prosper on tourism. Then you find yourself begging to have the title back…then some other place has got the title “spring break capitol” because you chased all of the kids away and promoted it as a “family beach”.

Embrace the Spring Break Beach Capitol title….
Hire more Police Officers and train them to do their Dang jobs right…then, as a community we can all benefit from the potential winfall this has been and can be…

All the mom and pop hotels that built this beach are nearly gone and they used to love having the college kids here…All that I remember has now been replaced with these hideous blights of condos covering the beach view while their pompous owners won’t lease the property to spring breakers.
Good for ’em…I personally hope they can’t afford to keep their precious “time shares”. Serves ’em right for contributing to what happened to our once beautiful beaches.

“Family Friendly Beach” indeed….the world has plenty of those…..

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13 Lori October 16, 2007 at 10:25 pm

MTV had their time. It’s time for the college kids to take their party elsewhere and let decent families play on the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are plenty of other places willing to put up with the public nudity, underage drinking, vomiting in resort hallways and wet t-shirt contests. I love PCB, but when your city is featured on shows like “Beach Patrol”, what does that say? How does that get me renters in my condo? At least ones I’d invite back? Yes, everyone’s money is green, I’d just rather have it from families and people with some sense of humanity.

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14 Lori October 16, 2007 at 10:28 pm

Paul, by the way, try dropping $250K on a real estate investment, and see it trashed in one night. You’d be singing a different tune then!

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15 Paul Jones - Paul@PanamaPaul.com October 17, 2007 at 5:47 am

Lori,

The “Real estate investments” you are referring to are part of the evil that has ruined my beach and placed monstrosities all over its shore, replacing the “mom & pops” that were a part of its history and heritage, so you’ll excuse me please for not having much in the way of sympathy for your investments and you. I would be glad for all of you to NOT be able to find any renters besides Spring Breakers….

There could be nothing sweeter in my opinion….

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16 Jason October 17, 2007 at 10:57 am

Change and growth is inevitable. The argument that I hear often of “why couldn’t we just leave it the way it was” is naive in concept. I have never claimed to have total confidence in our local planning authorities, and would agree things could have been better if done differently, but to waive a hand and say all new development is evil is just plain dumb. I’ll probably tick some people off by saying this, but let’s face it folks, we are where we are, the development is done and there is no sense in wasting your breath and other people’s time complaining about it. The issue at hand is how are we going to gradually change the image of our area to one of a more positive nature, and what is the TDC doing to incrementally change the tourist base to a larger percentage family demographic.

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17 Paul Jones - Paul@PanamaPaul.com October 17, 2007 at 11:48 am

Jason,

My issue is with this statement “The issue at hand is how are we going to gradually change the image of our area to one of a more positive nature, and what is the TDC doing to incrementally change the tourist base to a larger percentage family demographic.”

In this statement there is an inherent assumption that I agree with the views of the “Christian Conservative Right” who feel that this current image is one of a NEGATIVE nature. In my case this is an unfair assumption. You see, growing up here, I grew up with this being a “Party Town”, now that I have 3 children, the oldest being 13, I have no problem with that image remaining.
I also do not feel the same supposed NEED to “incrementally change the tourist base to a larger percentage family demographic”

I like our beach just the way it is…LONG LIVE SPRING BREAK and the money it brings to our economy!

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18 Donna October 18, 2007 at 9:00 am

Is there anything that the average citizen can do to combat what is happening with the TDC? I don’t believe that the majority of people go along with the direction we have taken & seem to be continuing to take. As for the negative affect on local business should we cease to cater to spring breakers: With proper planning any negative effect temporarily experienced will lead to an enduring positive effect.

It has been said that one sign of insanity is doing the same things over & over, but expecting to get different results.
As a citizen, is there some way we can influence doing something different in order to get different–more desirable results?

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19 Realtor October 18, 2007 at 7:50 pm

Last I heard the TDC was using the money for a study of how to AVOID the University crowd. It’s not easy to eat your words. I’ve been informing potential investors of this break-away from the Sophmoric Spring Break. Does Hilton still has his hand in the Kitty? Maybe we should change the name to Yehaw Beach, since corrupt Yehaw’s are running it.
Realtor

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20 Bryan October 21, 2007 at 1:53 am

In response to “Do you have any idea how many people that need SB to survive? Think of all the hospitality people, shops, hotels and restaurants that need that money”, it is important to keep in mind that the TDC estimates that each college spring breaker spends only $35.00 per day on goods and services.

In response to “Everybody talks about family spring break, but do you know when family spring break is? Look at a calendar and see for yourself”, families with school-age children are not the only people traveling in the spring. Destin does quite nicely in March without relying on college spring breakers. Are we getting our share of other tourist groups?

In response to “Let’s not forget that Spring Break and “crazy college partying” built this beach and virtually built the TDC as well…”, the facts show that PCB was built by family tourists, not college spring break. PCB only became a major college spring break player in the 90’s when MTV was first brought here.

In response to “The TDC’s responsibility is to the majority, not the select few”, the fact is that over 80% of our tourist accomodations do not permit college spring breakers.

In response to the lack of concern for whether condos that replaced the mom and pop hotels are able to rent their units, I believe our hotels depend on the success of the condo rentals. The condo owners have mortgages to pay also and will have to rent their units at whatever rates they can obtain. If the condo rental rates go down, the rates at the hotels will have to go down also.

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21 casa February 29, 2008 at 6:00 pm

Spring break- The only free time hard working, motivated students have to be free between classes. Spring break will always be held in panama city beach, even if TDC stops spending money, students and non students will still show up to Panama city beach in march every year!!

“The only people who would try to stop spring break are people who never did it as a kid or people that had a corrupt childhood and dont understand the concept, and try to ruin other peoples fun!” -James Wilson

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22 casa February 29, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Spring break- The only free time hard working, motivated students have to be free between classes. Spring break will always be held in panama city beach, even if TDC stops spending money, students and non students will still show up to Panama city beach in march every year!! .

“The only people who would try to stop spring break are people who never did it as a kid or people that had a corrupt childhood and dont understand the concept, and try to ruin other peoples fun!” -James Wilson

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23 Danielle March 1, 2008 at 9:36 am

My husband and 2 kids are coming to PCB in june. I have been to PCB twice for spring break, and had a great time. Thats why we decided on PCB for our famiy vacation this year. There is no way we would have planned a vacation during spring break. Not because we don’t want spring breakers there, it’s mainly becauseits not a good time for a family to go. Most sensable people should not plan a vacation during spring break.

Leave spring break for the college scene, let them come down here and have there fun, and spend there money. It only happens 1 month a year. That leaves 11 months for family vacations. Don’t out price an average family from coming to PCB with to many luxary hotels. They will go somewhere else.

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24 Mike McDonald March 3, 2008 at 8:55 am

To whom it may concern:

I am a native Floridian who is nearing retirement age and recently purchased a PCB condo. We have banked on the so called change in the direction of PCB planners. We bought into the “Family Vacation” destination vision Jason espouses as proof that we were making a good investment. It is distressing to see PCB drunk and half drunk kids being used as entertainment on TV for all the nation to see. I had hoped we had seen the last of this but maybe not.

PCB Condo investor

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25 Bryan Durta March 3, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Danielle,
Glad to hear that your spring break visits earlier in your life didn’t discourage you from bringing your family back now. However, I disagree with your suggestion that we just leave March for the college kids. The problem is that less than 20% of our tourist accommodations allow college spring breakers. How many families who traditionally vacation during Easter week will end up going somewhere else this year? The more upscale properties have employees, expense, and investors also.

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