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Panama City Beach tourism tops pre-pandemic numbers, setting record highs in 2021

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 10:46 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Tuesday, Governor Ron Desantis announced that Florida’s tourism numbers top pre-pandemic levels. This announcement was based on “Visit Florida’s” estimates that show the state welcomed almost 33-million travelers in quarter three this year alone. That reflects a nearly seven percent increase from 2019.

Here locally, we’re told we’ve had a very successful year topping pre-pandemic numbers and setting record highs as well.

“A lot of it did have to do with the pandemic and opening up of Florida.” Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport Deputy Executive Director Richard McConnell said.

As things opened up in our area, we even saw tourism topping numbers we saw before the pandemic.

“Our loyal visitors come to Panama City Beach year after year and they were ready to get back down to the destination,” Visit Panama City Beach Public Relations Manager Lacee Rudd said.

A success that we’ve seen with the sky-high numbers as tourists travel through Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.

“Later on in 2020, we started picking up significantly. 2021 is showing record numbers over our high year of 2019,” said McConnell.

Year to date, ECP has seen almost two million passengers. Compare this to the little more than one million passengers seen pre-pandemic.

“We’re also seeing the rental cars and the hotels are still booking pretty high. So, we’re still having travelers coming in,” said McConnell.

Visit Panama City Beach officials said year to date, we’re up 73% over last year and 33% over pre-pandemic levels.

“And then for the fall season, we just got our numbers back for September and we were up 30% over last year and over 80% pre-pandemic levels,” said Rudd.

And with the fall season in full swing, tourism numbers aren’t falling anytime soon for our year-round destination.

Rudd said events like Beach Home for The Holidays this weekend and the New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop will bring in more tourism and help boost the local economy.

Rudd also tells us tourism is the number one economic driver in Bay County. From September 2020 to the year to date ending September 21st, she said Panama City Beach brought in almost 37-million-dollars. This is almost 15-million-dollars more brought in than pre-pandemic.

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