This is the first article in a series that explores 2011 Tourism Predictions for Panama City Beach.
Spring is right around the corner, and along with the knowledge of the coming season, we’re finding that our town is divided into three parts. The Optimists, The Pessimists and The Realists.
At times, it looks as though the Realists Team and the Optimists Team are on the same page, leaving the Pessimists to bemoan, well – everything.
For the most part, the Panama City Beach community is fanning those beginning sparks of excitement, while remaining optimistically cautious, over the vast potential of the 2011 tourism season.
Instead of sitting around speculating any longer, we decided to check in with some of PCB’s seasoned pro’s, those business savvy locals, who’ve been through this whole tourism thing a time or two.
Logically, one of the first places we would reach out to is Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. Thankfully, our instincts paid off and we were lucky enough to catch up with the airport’s Executive Director, Randy Curtis.
He stated that trying to nail down official numbers for the 2011 season, is tricky considering the new airport is less then a year old, (which is exactly what the Media point-person from Southwest Airlines told me). However, Randy was willing to share their current estimates with us, based off the overall statistics taken from the July-August season in 2010, then compared to the old-airport’s numbers during the same monthly time frame, in 2009
As we’ve reported, in July-August 2009, the now dubbed “old airport” handled about 30,000 monthly passengers.
In 2010, however, during those same summer months, the numbers jumped to an astounding 83,000 passengers (per month) despite negative, national media coverage of BP’s oil disaster and the nations economical hardships.
Yet, even with our pristine beaches untouched by the oil, and the relentless national coverage, we maintained our appeal to vacationers, and in October 2010, we seduced 73,000 passengers into the new-airport’s, convenient location.
Impressive numbers, confirmed by the man who makes the airports success, his business. In an effort to sum up our conversation, Randy Curtis simplified the numbers-by stating that this year’s expectations are leaning towards “3x’s the number of passengers the old airport handled during the same time frame”
This is wonderful news to those Optimists, intriguing news to the Realists, and for you Pessimists roaming around out there, this news just translates into more of those “pesky kids” hanging out on your lawn.
Regardless, it’s a great start to our 2011 Tourism Predictions series.
In our next article, we’re following the sandy seashores to check in with Paul Wohlford, Vice-President of Sales & Marketing for the Resort Collection of Panama City Beach.