Beach Combats Ivan Perceptions

Is Panama City Beach suffering an image problem thanks to last year's hurricanes? Tourism leaders think so.

A new series of TV ads is aimed at fighting the perception our beaches were wiped away during Hurricane Ivan.

Beaches and motels around Pensacola Beach were devastated by Hurricane Ivan. Right now, there's only one motel open on the beach and most aren't going to open for a few more months.

Contrast that with Panama City Beach, where most motels are open and the beach is doing just fine. It's separating Panama City Beach from the rest of Northwest Florida that's proving tough for tourism leaders.

Jayne Leach is the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. "The perceptions out there were that all of Northwest Florida had indeed been affected by Hurricane Ivan. And as we know, Panama City Beach had minimal damage and is perfectly fine now."

Ms. Leach is hoping a new set of TV ads helps change the perception of devastation. "What we're trying to do is get the message out that Panama City Beach has not been affected by the hurricanes from this past fall. It's opening new markets for us. We're seeing visitors inquire from Mississippi and we've never seen that in the past."

Tourism leaders say changing the perception of Panama City Beach is crucial, because tourism is Bay County's top industry, and the summer tourist season is right around the corner.

Panama City Beach tourism leaders have also revamped their website. You can see it at: