Bed Tax Revenue Soars in March

Tourism traffic was definitely up in March of this year as indicated by the latest bed tax revenue monthly report.  Year over year, March of this year was an astounding 19.4% up over last year.  Looking closer reveals an even more astounding 38% increase over 2009, our last “low” point over the last 6 years. In Bay County there is a tax collected on each vacation rental revenue dollar that is calculated as 5% of the total base rent rate of each stay.  This Bed Tax money is then appropriated to a variety of efforts to fund the general tourism marketing of our area.  Some funds marketing, some funds operational costs of handling the marketing operations, some funds renourshing our beach, etc.

A close look at the numbers.

With the oil spill a couple years ago, there was a lot of uncertainty as to what direction our local tourism industry was going to go. Last year (2011 season) being the first year out of that catastrophe, and seeing a 3.7% decrease in year over year bed tax collections, many were heavily concerned with how the 2011 summer would fare. Of course, we know, summer 2011 was a record breaking season, so those fears fortunately, were unfounded. Total Bed Tax dollars collected for March of 2012 were $1,769,821.69. This is 5% total of all the room-night revenue reported. Broken down by single percentage, this would be $353,964.34 per point collected. The total bed tax revenue collected for March of 2011 was $1,482,498.95. Again, broken down by single percentage, this would be $296,499.79. In doing year over year increase calculations, it’s important to break down the total revenue collected by single percentage because beginning in the 2008/2009 tourism season, 5% was collected but before it was 3%. Here is the total breakdown for March for all previous years back to 2007.

  • March 2010 – $1,539,121.49 – single point: $307,824.30 – 19.9% over previous year
  • March 2009 – $1,026,521.85 – single point: $256,630.46 – -5.3% down previous year
  • March 2008 – $813,079.54 – single point: $271,026.51 – 16.3% over previous year
  • March 2007 – $699,028.94 – single point: $233,009.65
Projections for April 2012

We’ve already offered our general prediction over the average increase projections for tourism season 2012. March 2012 bed tax revenue numbers were amazing, and if that’s any indication of what we’ll see for April, then we’re on a fast track to an amazing tourism season for this summer. I can speak for my own vacation rental company (PCBLP) in that April was certainly record breaking. We had a much better April than we did last year, but it’s difficult for me to tabulate the source as we were just getting rolling last April. Looking at average increases for April bed tax revenue over the last 6 years, we should see a minimum of 7% increase this year over last year. But I’m betting on a more dramatic increase that is founded on what we’ve seen the last 3 years, which would be a healthy 15.4%. I’m projecting our 2012 April bed tax collections to be $1,404,017.44 – give or take 3%. I love making predictions. We’ll see how close I get!

Whataburger Opens in Panama City Beach

I know you’re mouth has been watering every time you’ve driven by the Whataburger that’s been under construction on Back Beach Road.  And don’t pretend it’s not watering now, just thinking about it.  They’ve been working on it for a couple months, and it finally opened last week.

It’s located right next to the new Hardee’s in one of the Lowe’s out parcels next to the Tom Thumb gas station.  It’s in the southeast quadrant of the Alf Coleman and Panama City Beach Parkway (Back Beach Road) intersection.

The best part about this place is that it’s open 24 hours a day!

I ate there last week and was pleasantly surprised when they brought my food out to me and offered napkins and condiments right at my table.  Not sure if that will last forever, but I sure enjoyed it!  And the burger was awesome.

Pier Park Summer Concert Series Schedule

Ah, summertime.  When I think of it, almost every time without fail, a certain Sublime song begins to play in my head – nevermind the underlying story.  All I remember is “Summertime and the livin’s easy.”  And easy living will surely have this fantastic summer we have coming up.

Tourism numbers are up, the weather’s been perfect lately and today we’re announcing the lineup of this summer’s Pier Park Summer Concert Series!

The series is every Thursday evening and begins at 7 pm.

Pier Park Summer Concert Series Band Lineup and Schedule

June 7  — Eric Lindell

June 14 — The Black Lillies

June 21 — Telluride

June 28 — The Kevin Jacobs Band

July 5 — Heritage

July 12 — George Porter Jr. and the Runnin’ Pardners

July 19 — The Lee Boys

July 26 — Boukou Groove

August 2 — Heat and the Zydeco Gents

August 9 — Colin Lake

August 16 — The Barry Fish Band

“Anchors Away” kicks off it’s first year at “Gayles Trails” Next Month

How exciting!  “Gayles Trails” or Panama City Beach Converstation  Park will be the home of an annual event for Anchorage Childrens Home next month.  The “Anchors Away 6K Family Fun Run” will debut 8 am on June 23rd and give Bay county residents a chance to enjoy nature outside with their family and support an amazing organization that serves our area.  The 6k run will be catered to the runner crowd while the 1 mile Fun Run will be geared towards families, friends, and even your pets to just get outside and enjoy the fresh air!

The event will be very affordable, the 6k is $20 if you sign up before June 5th and the Family Fun Run is only $10 per family.  To find out more you can visit their facebook page or you can even sign up on

Anchorage Childrens Home, though located on Lisenby Avenue in Panama City, provides a place of shelter for homeless and runaway youths from all over.  In fact, two of their sucessful residential programs, including Hannah’s house, are operated in Panama City Beach.  Many local businesses that are aware of the good that Ancorage does are jumping at the opportunity to be involved in this new annual event.

Some sponsors include: Gulf Coast DermatologyGangwish, Grandy, and Melzer Family Dentistry, Freedom Sports,, Panama City Beach TDC, and the Panama City Beach Fire Department and others.  If you, or someone from your business would like to lend a helping hand to this event, there is something for everyone.  Maybe you want to donate some water for the atheletes like SETCO Services or perhaps you have some goodies you want to put in the participants’ grab bags??  Or maybe if you are blessed to give a little more….you might want to sponsor a mile marker or help with awards or race T-Shirts?  Sponsorship opportunities are available up until one week prior to event.

However your heart moves you….there is still time to get involved.  To find out how you can help, call Brooke Bullard, Development Director at 850-763-7102 or email her at


The Beach Show #138- Unique Waterfront Property Special!

Hot deal # 1 is two houses in one for only $998,000 right on the Gulf
2900 square feet
6 bedrooms and 5 baths with over 1200 square feet of sun deck
Newly remodeled
Main house is two story with reverse floor plan and awesome gulf views
2nd house is one level with 3 bedrooms and adorable sun porch
Would make a great rental
Room for 10 cars to park and RV hookup

Hot deal #2 is an artistic retro home right on the bay for only $569,000

7 bedrooms and 7 baths with over 5,125 square feet
Custom built indoor heated pool with the most amazing slide for the kid in you!!!
Above the home is a separate apartment with its own den, kitchen and 3 bedrooms
Amazing design with wide open spaces
Boat lift and launch, right on the bay with spectacular views

ZooWorld Celebrates 20 Years, Admission $1 [THIS WEEKEND]

For those of you that came out a couple weekends ago and helped volunteer, thank you!  The community service project was an enormous success with over 75 people showing up to help. Tons of great work was done and the zoo is infinitely grateful for our service. Again, thank you.

This upcoming weekend ZooWorld celebrates 20 years of caring and entertaining, and they’re honoring that celebration with a super sweet $1 admission on Saturday.

Details about this one day event.

The event is this Saturday only, May 19 (my birthday!) and runs from 9 am to 5 pm cst.

  • Price of admission: $1 per person (no other discounts)
  • The last entry will be at 4:30 pm.
  • They’ll have concessions available for sale.
  • Animal shows will be at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm.
  • They’ll have a magician doing shows and demonstrations, a bounce house and pony rides.
Volunteers needed!

If your Saturday is free this weekend, and you’re looking to do some good service, ZooWorld needs your help.  They need volunteers to help man the stations, keep an eye on pony rides and help out where needed.

They need volunteers in three different shifts:

  • 8:30 am to 12:30 pm
  • 12 pm to 5 pm
  • 8:30 am to 5 pm

Volunteers would check-in at side gate and they’d like for them to call and RSVP on Friday, 850-230-4839 ext. 202.

Aaron Bessant Park Improvements [UPDATE]

Well, the Jazz Festival was awesome!  They had record numbers and mostly excellent weather (minus Saturday), and they’ve already started selling tickets for next year!  With that out of the way, the improvements that are slated for Aaron Bessant Park are preparing to begin! Although I don’t look forward for the workers working during our hot summer days.

We’ve discussed what the plans are here, and you’ve certainly chimed in.

Q&A with the City of Panama City Beach

We were curious about what was happening over there and fired off some questions to Mario Gisbert, the director of the CRA, who also happens to handle some of the logistics regarding the development of this project.

Q. Now that the Jazz Fest is over, is there a projected begin date for the Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater Improvements?

We are fine toning the drawings now, we will be pricing per the City of Panama City Beach requirements shortly (one month process).  Upon council approval of bids (two week process) and not exceeding the budget we would start construction.  Goal would be June start.

Q. What is the projected construction time on the amphitheater?

The construction duration is approximately 5 months.

Q. What has been learned about the acoustical ramifications of the way the speakers can be oriented?

With proper speaker orientation, building configuration and amplification limitations, the performances will work within the current sound ordinance.  These issues are being addressed with the building design.  The performance standards are being developed at this point in time.

Q. How will the speakers be oriented in order to be sensitive to the needs of the surrounding public?

The speakers will be aimed (7 degree cone) into the audience and not out towards the neighborhoods.

Q. Was some of what has been learned put into practice for the Jazz Festival this year?

The performance provider was aware of the current issues and did coordinate the speakers for a proper responsible performance.  The current sound ordinance limits were adhered.  We did monitor the event.

Q. How will the sound be monitored on an ongoing basis to be sure everyone is happy?

We will complete the performance standards and monitor the effects and adjust as needed.  We are planning on having the acoustician present during the new building performance in order to make final adjustments with building and speakers and amplification.