Panama City CVB goes on a dollars 257k Spring Break PR trip

PANAMA CITY, FL: Hoping to position itself as the Spring Break

capital of the world, the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) of Panama

City, has spent dollars 257,000 - nearly 20% of its dollars 1.5 million

total marketing budget - on positioning itself as a prime college party

destination. The CVB hopes to increase upon last year's 500,000

students, who injected dollars 135.7 million into the economy.

Jayna Leach, director of communications for the CVB, said Spring

Breakers have become a major Panama City market segment. Made unwelcome

by previous destinations including Fort Lauderdale, FL, due to years of

public drunkenness, lewd behavior and even deaths, the Spring Break crew

began coming to Panama City in the early 1990s. Students from Southern

schools were the first to descend on the town, and Panama City had to

decide whether it would encourage or discourage more students from fun

in the Panama Beach sun.

'The community decided it's something we want,' said Leach, who claimed

that the CVB spoke with residents and hotel property owners for years

before beginning its marketing push.

Leach said the CVB specifically targeted Spring Break publicity not to

affect other markets, like winter snowbirds or summer family


Rather, the target audience would be students east of the Mississippi

River who would be reached primarily through campus newspapers and


The CVB also benefits from corporate sponsorship money for Spring


This year, Dr. Pepper hosted a cabana cafe and handed out 100,000 cans

of soda. Can recycling money was donated back to the city and was used

to purchase sea oats, a plant which counters sand erosion which was

planted by student volunteers.

Leach said she could understand why former Spring Break locales have

shunned the lucrative but dangerous Spring Break market, but added that

Panama City is committed to courting the wet T-shirt set.

'Spring Break is only six weeks,' says Leach. 'Once that's done, we get

the clientele we're looking for. But at this point in time, there's not

really any market segment to replace the dollars the students bring in

for March and the first two weeks in April.'

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