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
- Preserve and enhance the Beach, the most important natural resource of Panama City Beach.
- Enhance the visitor experience.
- Develop and market Panama City Beach as a year-round destination.
- 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.
- 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.