Celebrating Panama City Beach Tourists

There are some locals who have a love/hate relationship with tourists who take over our beaches each year. They love the money it brings in, but hate the extra traffic.

However, tourism officials say last year’s numbers are reason to celebrate, and that is exactly what they did Wednesday.

More than 1,000 people hit the County Pier to celebrate the success of 2012 and the tourists that helped make it happen.

One billion dollars is what they are celebrating and that is how much tourists spent in Panama City Beach and Bay County in 2012. That is not even all the good news.

"Our March was over 20 percent and we're currently at over 13 percent increase for this year," Susan Estler, the vice president of marketing at the TDC, said.

Most residents appreciate the tourists for how much they bring to the local economy.

"We love the tourists, they pay for the upkeep of the county, the city, Panama City Beach," said Leonard Pearce.

This celebration is a way to show appreciation and thank them for choosing Panama City beaches.

"Bay County and Panama City Beach depend on tourism for our living and we appreciate all the people who come visit us," said Panama City Beach Mayor Gayle Oberst.

The money will go straight back to the TDC for future projects for 2013.