New Tourism Strategic Plan for Panama City Beach Released

by September 17, 2012 • 10 comments

Looking into the future creates feelings of excitement and anticipation.  Dreaming of what prosperity may come from careful planning and growth makes me all giddy inside.  At last week’s TDC meeting, the revised strategic plan was released that discusses the vision of 2020 in Panama City Beach and how we’ll get there.

This new plan is updated from the last plan that was released in 2008.  So, as you can imagine, we have a much better idea as to where we are and where we’re going.

The Vision of PCB in 2020
  • Maintain our place as the world’s most beautiful beaches.
  • Maintain high visitor occupancy while not exceeding the destination’s carrying capacity.
  • Continued diversification of our tourism product to create additional demand
    • New sports and event venues designed to drive increased destination appeal in the shoulder and off-seasons
    • Increased ecotourism and nature-based recreation access to the St. Andrew Bay and the Gulf of Mexico
    • Development of additional attractions, cultural & heritage resources, and other tourism amenities.
  • Enhance primary gateways that welcome visitors, create a sense of place, deliver the brand message and direct first-time visitors to the visitor center
  • Consistent directional signage throughout the destination.
  • Continue CRA improvements along Front Beach Road
  • Redevelopment of abandoned and dilapidated property in core visitor areas.
  • Consistent visitor occupancy in the 55% to 85% range year-round.
Key Initiatives to Achieve Vision
  1. Preserve and enhance the Beach, the most important natural resource of Panama City Beach.
  2. Enhance the visitor experience.
  3. Develop and market Panama City Beach as a year-round destination.
  4. Enhance and develop public venues to generate additional visitor demand.

Preserve and Enhance the Beach

  • Preserve and protect the water, sand, dunes and access paths.
  • Work with local, state, and federal agencies to secure permits necessary to conduct future beach renourishment activities.
  • Increase awareness of the beach and near-shore areas as wildlife habitat, for sea turtles, shorebirds, etc.
  • Enhance and improve trash removal and beach maintenance activities.
    • Investigate trash receptacles to replace the existing cans that provide the same function that are more visually pleasing
    • Develop an Adopt-A-Beach program to encourage partner and stakeholder support for beach maintenance and protection.
    • Discourage littering of all types, including glass bottles and cigarette butts on the beach and beach access points.
  • Public Information – Beach & Surf Conditions
    • Create materials to educate travelers about the beach and surf conditions, including surf conditions, leave no trace ordinance (signs, maps, website, guides, in-room video).
    • Enhanced Beach & Surf Patrols to increase public awareness of surf conditions, rip currents, Leave No Trace Ordinances, and other issues of importance to beach goers.
  • RESTORE Act/NRDA
    • Work with Bay County and local stakeholders on environmental enhancement and restoration projects that benefit Panama City Beach, St. Andrew Bay and the Gulf of Mexico

Enhance Visitor Experience

  • Deliver on the destination brand – “Real. Fun. Beach”. Most aspects of the PCB community should enhance a family vacation experience.
  • Collaborate with local governments and community leaders on policies that enhance the perception of Panama City Beach as a hospitable, safe, fun, beautiful vacation destination.
  • Enhance local transportation systems to ease visitors travel to and throughout the destination.
    • Gateways that deliver on the brand, welcome and direct travelers to information.
    • Directional signage – keep visitors moving efficiently through the community.
    • Road infrastructure and traffic enhancements – move traffic efficiently while protecting the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
    • Landscaping & beautification – a well maintained coastal landscape will inspire pride and better visitor behavior.
  • Encourage the redevelop of abandoned and condemned real estate in primary visitor beach front locations. Improve curb appeal, add new activities/businesses, improved safety.
  • Improve and expand on family attractions and outdoor experiences that complement the brand.

Year-round Destination

  • Expanded and targeted research-based marketing program.
    • Establish marketing priorities by season: Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring.
    • Partner with airlines to drive increased fly-in visitation from target markets.
  • Programming of events in shoulder and off season.
    • Festivals and concert events.
  • Expanded team sports and group sales initiatives emphasizing events during slower occupancy periods.
  • Build on fun elements in brand by promoting celebrations of holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, reunions, etc. to attract families and groups.
  • Feature ecotourism opportunities, including sea kayaking and snorkeling/diving as unique reasons to visit Panama City Beach that go beyond the traditional beach experience.
    • Encourage the redevelopment of existing attractions and the addition of complementary attractions.

Enhance Public Venues

  • Sports Facilities
    • Expand amateur athletic fields for softball, baseball at Frank Brown Park or new facility.
    • Develop rectangular fields for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and other field sports.
    • Develop multi-purpose facility to host sports tournaments, concert events, exhibitions, boat shows and social events.
  • Utilization of Improvements to Aaron Bessant Park.
    • Work with the City and other stakeholders on events – concerts, festivals, theatrical performances, and athletic tournaments – in Aaron Bessant Park that will drive incremental visitation to Panama City Beach.
  • Encourage development of ecotourism opportunities on West Bay, as well as the Gulf of Mexico, includes but not limited to:
    • Non-motorized boat ramps.
    • A series of artificial reef systems for snorkeling, diving and fishing.
  • Work with local, state and regional stakeholders to encourage the further diversification of Panama City Beach’s tourism economy and environmental restoration through RESTORE Act and NRDA investments.
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1 A G Rice September 17, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Plant palmtrees on back Bch. Rd. from bridge to bridge in medium strip and palmtrees at the airport, it looks like you are going into a industural park, as a person that moved here from Va. and people from other places people want to see Palmtrees when they come to Fl. This would really help.We need to improve the looks of our area, We have a lot of natural beauty, but all this would help so much…

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2 Hector September 25, 2012 at 7:56 am

Very good advice!

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3 Jeff Mooresville, Indiana September 17, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Nothing to much addressing the future of spring break. Family was referenced several times. I sure hope the high school aged spring breakers can be brought under control. The plan is spot on with the exception of no clear direction for spring break. I don’t want to see it go away, but better enforcement would be nice. The future looks bright for PCB!!!

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4 Ashley Harrell September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I agree that investing in Palm Trees is a great long term investment that will significantly improve the area.

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5 Cathy September 20, 2012 at 9:35 am

Being from out-of-town and vacationing in PCB quite often, I have to agree on the planting of Palms. I can’t begin to tell you what an improvement these were on Thomas Dr. It will take them about a year to fill out but it will be beautiful & give the area a more tropic look.
As we left PCB from our vacation last week we drove through the new airport and I have to say this area is in desperate need of Palms… possibly planted in groupings instead of lines. The new airport is very nice but, could use landscaping. People who fly in look at these things….. and as A G said: People want to see Palm Trees when they come to Florida. I guess we expect this.
Actually I would like to see them planted past Ebro all the way in….. there are some in small groupings around the Welcome Signs but, that’s not enough to give that “Tropic” feel. I guess this would fall under the Beautification Committee if you have one there.
Concerning Spring Breakers…… From what (photos) were shown on here last year, I am astonished that the Beach Law Enforcement & PCB Law Enforcement would allow teenagers to trash the beach so. If you can pass an ordinance & people can obey it to remove tents and take personnel belongings in with them each evening when they leave the beach, surly they can get control of teens leaving massive amounts of beer cans and trash on your beaches. (Pick Up Or Get Off) I’d say you have at least 5 months to work up a solid plan to do this & what it takes to enforce it.
I might add I loved seeing the beach totally empty of tents and personnel belongings each evening……Finally, we get to see a natural beautiful beach! 🙂
Thank you,
Cathy/Tennessee

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6 Sharon Ernst September 22, 2012 at 7:46 am

I love some of the Improve and Enhance the beach ideas above, and have an idea that might help. Like Mystery Shoppers, the City could hire random people to walk the beaches as tourists. When those people witness others throwing cigarette butts or beer bottles on the beach they could snap their picture, get a drivers’license and hand them a ticket to be paid to the city. It would generate income as well as keeping our beautiful beaches from becoming giant ash trays.

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7 Lara Greene September 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Since Southwest started offering direct flights to PCB, we hopped on board…..who doesn’t want to be at the beach in an hour?! Southwest frequently advertises direct flights on television/radio. With so much advertisement to PCB, why aren’t rental properties catering to those who fly a little bit more who drive? Examples: There are two direct flights to PCB per day….early and late. Why can’t properties offer early check-in catered to their flights arrival? Toiletries/laundry detergent/trash bags are another small issue. We cannot pack these items to bring home. Just a few suggestions that would make it a little easier to travel. As we left this year, work was being done on the road to the airport. Beautiful bridges and palm trees being planted. I cannot wait to come next year. I know the new Wal-Mart will be open by then….I hope traffic doesn’t increase too much. We prefer Target as its not as much of a zoo that Wal-Mart is.

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8 Hector September 25, 2012 at 8:06 am

The strategic plan is good, but it lacks depth. I have developed strategic plans for many years, but you have to include action steps with deadlinesto turn then into reality. Everybody wants cleaner beaches, but words will not accomplish this, enforcement has to be part of the plan. We need to start with signage at the entrance of all beach access points, including condos, welcoming all visitors and asking for their help to keep our beaches beautiful (the buy in concept). Then you have to post the rules, and lastly you have to let them know the price that will be paid for violation of the rules. These signs will go a long way, but enforcement has to be a part of it. The day I no longer have to pick up beer bottles and cigarette butts will be a great day!

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9 Michael/PCB September 27, 2012 at 10:16 am

It would be wonderful to have something similar to the old Welcome to Panama City Beach sign at the Hathaway Bridge. The signs show from the west end and from the airport but there is nothing welcoming drive traffic coming down 98
Prior to moving here, that was always a wonderful sight to behold!

Speaking of 98/ Front Beach Road, when oh when will something be done to make that more welcoming and presentable? That is still an important access point to the real-fun-beach but it isn’t inviting. It’s more like something you have to drive through to get to where you want to go. The approach to Ripley’s, Zoo World, Pirates Adventure, etc. etc. should be much more attractive than it is. Hopefully there is a plan to do something about this. If so, I for one would love to know about it.

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10 Dillan September 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm

YES! Michael/PCB makes a great point!

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