The oil spill threat this summer took it’s toll on the opportunity for us to have a slammin’, jammin’ summer, but it wasn’t all bad. Our image was certainly tarnished, our tourism numbers were down a bit, but on the plus side, the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau received $2 million from BP to be used for marketing the beaches of Panama City Beach. This influx of marketing money has saved our CVB $750,000 from their regular marketing budget this year so far and has freed up some cash to use in other arenas.
At the TDC meeting this week, there was one slide in PCB CVB Marketing Director Susan Estler’s presentation that kept its place longer than the others, and it’s pictured above. Note the extra dollars that are proposed to be allocated to the various events. If you can’t see through the grain of the low-light photo, it reads:
Recommendation of Enhancement for Existing Events
- Lobsterfest – $50,000
- Thunder Beach – $50,000
- Seafood, Wine and Music Festival – $150,000
This is huge news for these events as this could enable them to step up their value for this year. Currently and in the past, the CVB has not supported monetarily Lobsterfest, so this would be totally new for them. Last I checked, the CVB was contributing $25,000 to Thunder Beach and currently they have committed $60,000 to the Panama City Beach Seafood Wine and Music Festival. This new influx of cash would up the support for the Seafood Festival to $210,000 total.
Event Stakeholder, Jack Bishop was in attendance at the TDC meeting this week and was asked what this money would mean for the event. He was clear in that using this money to make it a free event was not a good idea as it would “take it down a level, rather than take it up a level.” It was discussed making it free for visitors to our area and paid for locals, which Mayor Oberst was staunchly opposed to, with due cause. Bishop said the influx in money would allow them to add tremendous value to the existing ticketed event, possibly allowing them to bring in a huge headliner.
He reported that they have flexibility in their contracts to move some schedules around and said they had already been in discussions on how to move forward should this become a reality.
Convention and Visitor’s Bureau CEO, Dan Rowe said they would sit down with the event stake holders and discuss how this money would best suit each individual event. He stressed that the CVB wouldn’t just start cutting checks. The whole idea is to boost Panama City Beach tourism by boosting existing events that are happening anyway.
Other ideas to use the savings from the regular budget include creating a totally new event that has a huge Jimmy Buffet-sized event that would be ticketed. The goal of an event of this magnitude would be to bring in 35,000 people (like they did for the Jimmy Buffet concert in south Alabama) that could have an influx of up to $7 million to the local economy. This would be at the end of the fall season this year or at the beginning of the tourism season next year.