Bay Point Billfish Invitational Cancelled

An annual summer tradition in Panama City Beach has been cancelled for 2012, citing economic and logistical challenges.  Every summer, the Bay Point Invitational Billfish Tournament brings people,  young and old alike, out of the woodwork to enjoy Panama City Beach’s hot summer nights, look at awesome boats and see some huge fish weigh in.

High fuel costs and competition

“It was definitely a tough decision,” said Steve Arndt, marina director at Bay Point Marina, “but ultimately the right one.” He contends that it wasn’t a single factor that led to the decision to cancel the 2012 tournament, but a combination of obstacles.

Arndt suggested that the economy was the main culprit, resulting in high fuel prices and a dwindling sponsor pool. “High fuel costs are especially tough on this tournament,” said Arndt, “Many of our boats come from out of town, and when fuel gets expensive it definitely affects their attendance.”

The proliferation of billfish tournaments along the Gulf Coast is also a factor. “There are almost a dozen big money tournaments along the Gulf Coast each year,” said Arndt. “And in this tight economy anglers and sponsors can’t afford to participate in every event.”

Many tournament anglers feel that their best chance to land a money winning fish lies westward in the fertile fishing grounds near the Louisiana oil fields. In the past, many boats from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi participated, but fuel costs have been pushing that number lower each year as they choose to fish closer to home.

Lost tons of parking

Other logistical factors influenced the decision to cancel the tournament, such as limited parking space. For years the tournament utilized a vacant lot just north of the marina as parking for spectators, participants and boat owners. That lot was recently renovated as a park, resulting in the loss of over 400 parking spaces. “Parking has always been a challenge, and when we lost the lot it was a severe blow. Without that extra space, there is no place for our boat owners and anglers to park.”

“We have many other special events at the marina, such as the Bay Point Outdoor Expo and In-Water Boats Show in March, the Leukemia Cup Poker Run in May and several smaller events throughout the year,” he said, “and we haven’t given up on the Invitational. Hopefully this will just be a short break.”

Past coverage of this event

2011 Billfish

2009 Billfish

2008 Billfish

Panama City Beach Makes “10 Best” Beaches

If you didn’t already know, Panama City Beach is absolutely beautiful. To it’s visitors and residents Panama City Beach rivals any beach in the world in both beauty, excitement and accessibility. Well, now, we’re not the only ones. In a recent publication by “10 Best Reader Choice Travel Awards” Panama City Beach was ranked above Maui and was said to “deliver outrageous sunsets, funky tourist shops and affordable lodging. . . . not to mention all those bikini-clad girls at spring break time.”

Check out the full list here.

Hardee’s on the Beach Opens Monday

If you’re a fan of their heart-attack inducing Thickburgers or their delicious breakfast items, crave no more and forget about the long drive.  The first Hardee’s (so far as I know) ever is opening on Panama City Beach on Monday.

Grant it, they’re not some quaint mom-and-pop shop, or some individualistic beach novelty, but they are Hardee’s, and we don’t have one.  And now we will!

So, grab your appetite, head over Monday and pick up a Cinnamon ‘n Raisin Biscuit for breakfast, a tasty Mushroom Swiss Thickburger for lunch, but eat some fresh vegetables for dinner.

The new Hardee’s is located just to the east of the Tom Thumb gas station at the same corner as Lowe’s, right on Panama City Beach Parkway (Back Beach Road).  The nearest major intersection is PCB Parkway and R Jackson Blvd (formally Beckrich).

Miracle Strip Adds New Ride: Sea Dragon!

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

In keeping with the tradition of adding tasteful rides to the growing amusement area in Pier Park, Miracle Strip @ Pier Park has added another ride.  This comes after a winter of planning and reorganizing the whole park, shifting the Red Baron Plane ride to the other side of the park and moving the Tilt a Whirl over.  The Sea Dragon is on the far east side of the property with a decorative fence behind it.

The Sea Dragon

One of the few rides I can actually ride at Miracle Strip without feeling my stomach in my throat is the Sea Dragon.  The spin rides really do me wrong – but my kids love them – however, vertical and horizontal acceleration rides do me very right.

This type of ride allows a small amount of air-time for those riders sitting in the very back as the ride swings back and forth, over and over.

A total list of all the rides at Miracle Strip @ Pier Park

Along with the addition of the Sea Dragon, they’ve changed some things around and added some ancillary fun for the kids as well. On the south side of the property, they added a huge bounce pillow (parent friendly) and near the entrance, they’re working on a kiddie train area where the little ones can navigate the rails on their own.

Here is a complete list of their rides and attractions.

  • Tilt a Whirl
  • Scrambler
  • Ferris Wheel
  • Carousel
  • Red Baron Planes
  • Balloon Race
  • Sea Dragon
  • Butterfly Pavilion
  • Bounce Pillow
  • Kiddie Train (under construction)
Pricing for admission, rides, day bands, etc.

They’ve really packed a lot of fun into Miracle Strip @ Pier Park – adding enough entertainment to keep the kids occupied for a couple hours.  The other thing that’s great for parents is that they’ve added fencing all around the park so there is only one point of entry and exit.  I for one can certainly appreciate this with my four little kids.

There are several ways to enjoy the fun.  Here is a breakdown of all the ticket pricing.

  • Single ticket pricing — $3.50 — each ride requires one ticket
  • Book of 10 tickets — $29
  • Single day arm band — $18 — includes unlimited rides for the full day for wearer
  • Season pass — $99 — unlimited access for the bearer, along with a “buddy” (basically good for 2 people)

For more information on Miracle Strip, visit their website and Like their Facebook page.

The Beach Show – Episode 127

First, let me be the first to welcome The Beach Show back to PCBDaily.com.  This was where it was founded and it’s glad to have it back home.

The Beach Show is part of our Real Estate category where we talk a bit about real estate in the Panama City Beach area. This post originally appeared on The Beach Show which airs a new episode of super hot real estate deals each week.

January PCB Tourism Interest Activity Up

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

All signs are pointing to a great tourism season in Panama City Beach.  Last year we had record breaking numbers and we expect much the same for the 2012 tourism season.

Many of our rental condos at PCBLP are booked up all summer already and we’re hearing much the same from our industry partners.

Visitor Service Inquiries and Web Site Activity

On a monthly basis, tourists from around the country (and the globe) inquire on more information about Panama City Beach through a variety of sources.  The numbers below are approximate, here are the top 5.

  • Website Inquiries: 3,500
  • Rea.Fun.Beach.Club ’11/’12: 2,250
  • Oprah Magazine: 2,150
  • Compass Family Travel: 1,750
  • Beach Chamber of Commerce: 600

Website Activity

A couple years ago the Tourist Development Council (TDC) launched a new website and a whole new effort to market the beach.  The campaign, dubbed Real.Fun.Beach has done loads in acquiring visibility for our little tourist town.  And through the BP disaster and the subsequent compensatory marketing funds that came from it, they captured the attention of national media time and time again.

January 2011 activity

  • Number of visits: 93,430
  • Length of session: 4 minutes 22 seconds
  • Pageviews per visit: 5.85
  • Unique visitors: 77,222

January 2012 activity

  • Number of visits: 119,220
  • Length of session: 3 minutes 57 seconds
  • Pageviews per visit: 4.9
  • Unique visitors: 98,241

Top website visitor states

  1. Florida
  2. Georgia
  3. Texas
  4. Alabama
  5. Tennessee
  6. Illinois
  7. Ohio
  8. Indiana
  9. Kentucky
  10. Michigan

Top visitor service inquiry states

  1. Georgia
  2. Tennessee
  3. Ontario
  4. Ohio
  5. Florida
  6. Alabama
  7. Indiana
  8. Illinois
  9. Michigan
  10. Kentucky

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport Launches New Website

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

I thought the old website looked pretty good, but apparently it lacked some desired functionality.  The new website just launched Tuesday of this week and features “an updated design, social media integration and streamlined information for travelers, including a new real-time flight tracking feature.”

As you know, the new airport is located just north on Highway 79 and to the east about 5 miles on Highway 388.  It was relocated there a couple years back in what was a bold and revolutionary move as it was the first new airport to be built since 9/11/01.

We’re planning on visiting the new airport again (we’ve obviously been a ton of times) to shoot a video tour for our readers.

What are some of the things you’d like to see us show?

Press release for the website launch

PANAMA CITY, FL (February 14, 2012) – Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport has unveiled a new website that will make traveling even more convenient for flyers. The new website features an updated design, social media integration and streamlined information for travelers, including a new real-time flight tracking feature.

The Airport understands that a seamless online experience is more important than ever in an increasingly interactive world where most consumers are making their travel plans online.

“We wanted to provide our customers with a website that quickly answers their questions and allows them to effortlessly make travel decisions” said John Wheat, the Airport’s Executive Director.

Website visitors can obtain real time updates on arrivals and departures, follow flights on an interactive route map and track individual flights throughout the country.

Residents looking for a getaway will be able to choose from the Airport’s daily direct flights with service to Atlanta, GA (ATL), Baltimore, MD (BWI), Houston, TX (HOU), Nashville, TN (BNA), and Orlando, FL (MCO), as well as connecting service to worldwide destinations.

Website visitors looking to learn more about what Northwest Florida has to offer will be seamlessly connected to the Airport’s exceptional tourism partners who stand ready to help them plan the perfect getaway to Panama City, Panama City Beach, Florida’s Forgotten Coast or the 15 Beach Neighborhoods of South Walton.

“Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport offers the lowest average airfares in the region, allowing travelers to save an average of $150 on each trip they take,” said Andy McKenzie, Chairman of the Airport’s Board of Directors. “The new website is an important tool in helping us spread the word that our Airport is the most convenient and cost effective option.”

The Airport will also soon be launching a mobile site that is fully compatible with handheld devices. This site will provide a more user friendly experience when viewing from a mobile device, whether at the Airport or on the go.

For more information, visit www.IFlyBeaches.com.