Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater Structure is UP

In this third and final installment of construction updates in the Pier Park general area in Panama City Beach, the Aaron Bessant Park amphitheater has raised its hand and remarked that its structure is up and the roof is in place. Having been under construction for just a short period, you can actually see the final product as its come up from the ashes of the previous structure commonly referred to as “The Claw.”

For a recount of all the features this new amphitheater will have, click here.

Pictures.

In this shot you can see the entire front front of the new Aaron Bessant Park amphitheater.  If you’re down here, I highly recommend walking over to check it out in person.  It’s really quite large and very exciting!

This shot was taken from the back right (southwest) of the building.  Behind those already-colored walls will be the dressing rooms and admin office.  The large opening in the center under the peak of the roof structure will be where the hangar doors are that will be able to be opened.

This is a closer look at the large opening directly behind the stage.  For scale, you can see the man in the middle by the boards leaning on the scaffolding.  I’d assume he’s an average height.  The structure really is quite tall.

This shot is from the southeast side of the building.  The large opening in the middle of the shot on the easterly facing wall is where the tractor trailers could pull up and load/unload.

This gives you a better view of the loading/unloading area.

This is the new restroom facility behind the existing facility

This is a shot from the very back of the venue grounds.  Directly behind me and to the right is the bathroom facilities.  You can see from this shot that this will be a very sweet and grandly improved venue.  So exciting!!!

New Tourism Strategic Plan for Panama City Beach Released

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
  1. Preserve and enhance the Beach, the most important natural resource of Panama City Beach.
  2. Enhance the visitor experience.
  3. Develop and market Panama City Beach as a year-round destination.
  4. 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.

Year-round Destination

  • 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.

Leave No Trace, What it Means to You (Tent Ordinance)

A couple weeks ago the Panama City Beach City Council passed an ordinance dubbed Leave No Trace that prohibits beach goers from leaving personal property on the beach overnight.  Also known as the Tent Ordinance, the initial goal was to eliminate the left over tent skeletons that sometimes seem to pollute our shimmering white sands.

What the ordinance includes.

Specifically, the ordinance states that personal property left on the beach between the hours of 9 pm and 5 am will be considered abandoned and will be disposed of.  Some of these items may include tents, chairs, coolers, towels, etc.

On public beaches or with the upland landowner’s permission, guests may store personal property overnight at the Toe of the Dune at their own risk.

The Toe of the Dune is the area of the beach immediately seaward of the dune and beach vegetation. To be specific, it is the area of the beach that is furthest from the water that is not in a sand dune or beach access point.

Items left at the Toe of the Dune will not be removed by the contractor.  However, the owners of the personal property storing items at the Toe of the Dune, do so at their own risk. The County, City, TDC and its beach maintenance contractor, do not assume any liability for any items left on the beach after 9:00 pm.

When does the ordinance take effect?

The ordinance is in effect now.  However, it’s not being enforced until Sunday, July 8, 2012. Local officials and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau are getting the program prepared and beginning an awareness campaign so no one’s caught off guard.

How will the program work?

Each evening the beach maintenance contractor will travel the length of the beach and remove any items from the beach that are in violation of this ordinance.

The contractor may issue courtesy warnings for items left on the beach as they begin the implementation. When a courtesy warning is issued the material will be tagged informing the owner of the ordinance and the intent to remove the item the following evening if it is not removed.

However, officials are saying these warnings are a courtesy and that the contractor may remove any item from the beach whether or not a prior warning has been issued.

The release states that there may be times and circumstances that the contractor is unable to remove items from the entire length of the beach in a single evening.  This inability to fully enforce the ordinance will not change or prevent the contractor from removing the items the next evening without notice.

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

Secrets of PCB – Good Eatin at the Docks

This is part of our Secrets of Panama City Beach series, showing you things about the beach, you’ve never dreamed of.

This week is a special treat for me because I have the opportunity to write about one of my all time faves!  Nestled under oak trees and sitting right on West Bay; Boon Docks Restaurant is a must try Secret of PCB.  The drive to Boon Docks does make one think you may be going in the wrong direction, but rest assured it’s there, just set back off the main road.

Continue reading “Secrets of PCB – Good Eatin at the Docks”

Weekend Events – Halloween This Weekend

Here are this weekend’s events.  With Halloween this weekend, we have some really spooky stuff going on here, in Panama City Beach.  With things all up and down the beach, there is everything from family friendly to adult fun.

You’ve told us, and we’ve listened.  Staring next Monday, we’ll be publishing the weekend events on Monday morning, just in time for the Tuesday morning newsletter.  This will give you some more time to plan ahead!

Here are the events for this weekend!

Books Alive…Local!

For something literary, a little bit different, and a lot local, this Friday the 29th, The Bay County Public Library presents Books Alive Local!  Friday morning at 10, writers talk about romance-and mystery! Well known World War II  Writer Bruce Gamble will be here, along with Michael Lister, Marlene Womack and a host of other local authors. Saturday morning at 9 come back for conversation, sales, signings and more!

Continue reading “Weekend Events – Halloween This Weekend”