PCB tourism up for 13th straight month
Tourism in September not only topped the previous year but marked the 13th straight month of growth in Panama City Beach.
Tourism officials recently announced a 13.9 percent increase in tourist development tax collections for September. Similarly, August collections were up 13.7 percent over August 2016.
“This is wonderful for our area,” said Catie Feeney, Visit Panama City Beach public relations manager. “We have been up every single month for the entire fiscal year.”
For the fiscal year, which began October 2016, the tourist development tax numbers are up 13.5 percent. The 5 percent “bed tax” collected on vacation and short-term rentals in Bay County. The money is used for funding, advertising and promoting tourism in the special taxing district, the convention bureau, tourist information centers, convention centers and other related areas. It also finances beach maintenance and re-nourishment.
Feeney said the rise can be attributed to initiatives like the “Make it Yours” online marketing campaign. The organization has been gearing its programs more toward a focus on visitors and their experiences, and Feeney said said Visit Panama City Beach’s social media presence also has impacted the numbers.
“Our overall strategy is to position Panama City Beach as a year-round destination, always marketing to the right audience with the right message at the right time,” Visit Panama City Beach President and CEO Dan Rowe said in a press release. “In the past couple of years, schools in our target markets have concluded summer vacation in early August. As a result, we shifted our tactics to target families with young children and young couples without children to encourage overnight and week-long stays.”
Feeney said collection numbers typically are the highest in July, and numbers have remained consistent — if not higher — in the fall months. She said fall can be a less popular time for people to visit the beach because of the number of people who can vacation at the time.
“Year-round, we are focusing on families,” she said. “We’ve become a year-round destination, and we continue to see growth in the fall and spring time.”
Part of the offseason strategy is Beach Home for the Holidays — centered on holiday activities and traditions — to draw in families who might want to create new traditions in the city, Feeney said. Southern Living will present the third annual event Nov. 24-25 at Aaron Bessant Park.