Bay Co. TDC Discusses Holiday Trash Solutions

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PANAMA CITY BEACH-- Panama City Beach officials say the most successful tourist weekend in the city's history exposed a few flaws.

The record number of tourists created a mountain of trash, and the city is already making plans for next year.

Tourists couldn't have asked for a nicer Fourth of July holiday to come to the beach. There were pristine waters, white sands and perfect weather.

But things weren't so nice after the weekend.

Bay County Tourist Development Council members say they're pleased with last weekend's crowd, but not the trash they left behind.

Crews cleaned up 175,000 pounds of trash out of 900 overflowing bins.

"One group can't do it. My group can't do it and your group can't do it. It has to be everybody pulling together to make it happen," Panama City Beach City Manager Mario Gisbert.

On the bright side, tourism officials say this is not a constant problem.

"Beyond the peak season, and this is the peak of the peak season. But the other 300 days out of the year, this really is working just right," Gisbert said.

But they also understand they have to present a consistent product to their customers.

"As soon as we have a dissatisfied customer, he or she may not come next year," Gisbert said.

During Thursday's TDC meeting, members discussed a better enforcement of an existing ordinance that requires businesses to clean up the beaches in front of their property.

"They have the responsibility for the beach that they own, but also the public beach to the mean-high water line. So they do have a responsibility all the way down to the water's edge," TDC President Dan Rowe said.

The TDC did not take any formal action Thursday on the issue, but plan to work with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about restricted clean-up during turtle nesting season.

TDC officials are asking County Commissioners to help with this issue.