Destination: Florida Panhandle
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About Florida Panhandle
Number of Meetings Hotels: 47
Total Hotel Rooms: 14,800
Number of Special Events Venues: 16
Local Convention Centers: Emerald Coast Convention Center
Local Airports: Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS)
Local CVB: Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, Emerald Coast CVB, Panama City Beach CVB
“The beaches of Northwest Florida are a national treasure,” says Dan Rowe, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. The White House agrees: On Oct. 5, 2010, a presidential executive order established an Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to preserve the beauty and integrity of the Gulf Coast. “Like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and the Everglades,” Rowe says, “you visit just to see it—pure sugar-white sandy beaches and emerald waters. Here, you’re meeting in the South.”
A roughly 200-mile strip along the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida panhandle is an informal Riviera with four principal destination areas. Pensacola is at the western edge, at the Alabama border. In the center, along the west side of Choctawhatchee Bay, are Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island, aka the Emerald Coast. At the bay’s east end, the 15 “beaches of South Walton” communities include Miramar Beach, Seaside, Rosemary Beach and Watercolor. Panama City Beach is at the far eastern end.
The value season is winter, when temperatures hover around a comfortable 65 degrees. Add multiple airports, drive-market access, and “some of the world’s best beaches,” reminds Rowe, and it’s clear why Northwest Florida beckons as a relaxed, resort-style meeting place.