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Stewards Along 227 Miles of Coastline Come Together As “THE BEACH,”

THE Beach – February 26, 2009 – Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast wants to make sure travelers are no longer in the dark about their part of the Sunshine State.  Seeking a spot on the national tourism stage, the region’s beach communities will henceforth be collectively known as “THE Beach.”  A longtime favorite vacation spot for families driving in from the Southeast, regional business stewards across the seven counties who previously marketed themselves separately have pooled resources to reach out to wider horizons.      

“By promoting the region as a single entity we can extend our efforts beyond our traditional markets more efficiently,” said Mel Ponder, executive director of Coastal Vision 3000, the newly formed group charged with marketing THE Beach.  “And with renovations and new construction at our three regional airports, we are poised to welcome more travelers than ever before.”

The organization, representing Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties, has just introduced a new Web site,, where vacationers can find information on the region’s attractions, find special offers and make bookings in real time.

Stretching from Pensacola to Carrabelle along the Gulf Coast, the region offers 227 miles of remarkably unspoiled white sand beaches.  Less developed than other Florida coastlines, the area is protected against development by the biggest military installations in the western hemisphere and 1 million acres of national, state and local parks and preserves.  Indeed, these beaches are regularly ranked among the U.S.’s top 20. 

Saved from theme park crowds and South Beach glitz, life at THE Beach goes on at a gentler pace.  Towns are small and laid back, folks are friendly and the fish always bite.  Tense urbanites love to unplug here and bask in the local color.  The vibe is more Alabama and Georgia than South Florida, with a distinct Southern charm and hospitality.  This is the “old Florida,” and a leading eco-tourism destination.  In fact, the region boasts some of Florida’s most diverse landscapes and unique features including the state’s only red bluffs and rare coastal dune lakes.

There’s much more to THE Beach than sun and sea, however.  Arts, culture, cuisine, fishing, golf and shopping are also big draws for families, singles and couples alike.  From ballet companies, theatre troupes, orchestras and symphonies to opera, jazz, art museums, galleries and cultural festivals, THE Beach can quickly fill the social calendars of both visitors and locals.   The region also boasts some of the best golf courses in the state.  The rolling dunescapes, varied elevations and stunning scenery of THE Beach inspire architects to create world-class layouts.  Course designers read like a who’s who of golf greats – Palmer, Jones, Fazio, Pate, Jackson, Nicklaus, Norman and Player.  In all, there’s close to 50 courses to play with varying degrees of difficulty and beautiful scenery.

THE Beach is also an angler’s dream destination.  This water wonderland may have more places to wet a line and more year-round opportunities to do so than almost anywhere in the country.  Charter boats ply the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but folks also do well standing in the surf or casting from one of the area’s many piers.  Novice or expert, hooking a catch here is a given.  After all, Destin is known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” 

With the fish always biting, it’s no wonder THE Beach boasts an incredible array of fresh seafood dining.  Here, visitors can dine on award-winning cuisine in sophisticated restaurants, but they will also find plenty of funky oyster shacks and inexpensive eateries where they can chow down on a po’ boy or succulent barbecue – then sit back with a beer and listen to some zydeco. 

While others may opt to indulge in some retail therapy at brand name stores and quirky boutiques or simply bronze in the sun, THE Beach truly has something for everyone. 

THE Beach is served by three airports:  Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS), the main airport for the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area; Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport (PNS), 60 miles west of Destin; and Panama City-Bay County International Airport (PFN) is 60 miles east of Destin.

About Coastal Vision 3000
Coastal Vision 3000 is a membership organization of regional stewards representing tourism and economic development interests in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties. Business and community leaders established the organization to create a consistent, branded identity for the seven-county region to increase national and international awareness, support local tourism and economic development professionals, and grow this market.


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