Social Media Doesn't Help Panama City Beach Shake its "Trashy" Image

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The Bay County Tourist Development Council will tell you Panama City Beach is the perfect family vacation destination.

"Our tagline is real, fun, beach," said TDC Marketing Vice President Susan Estler.

Is it really? Maybe not year-round. Do a quick web search and you'll find the not-so-glamorous side of this tourist hotspot. The less-than-reputable website "" came out with a new list of the top 15 trashiest spring break locations. Panama City Beach ranked #8.

Even easier, try typing in #PanamaCity on your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and what you'll find is not what tourism officials want you to see. NewsChannel 7 found everything from drunk and passed out college students to a sexually explicit post.

"Certainly youth not at its finest. They post these things because the peoples' reputation that they're posting doesn't mean anything to them," Bay County Commissioner Mike Thomas said.

Panama City Beach businesses owners do have a reputation to uphold.

"You're social media does follow you, and it's not very easy to erase," Estler told NewsChannel 7's Bryan Anderson.

"Do you think that it negatively affects this area at all?" Anderson asked Thomas.

"With some people it does," answered Thomas.

The T.D.C. said it tried changing its marketing strategy and told NewsChannel 7 it relies just as much on social media to cast a positive light.

"We have over 372,000 Facebook fans," said Estler.


"It doesn't help. It does not stop people that want to misbehave. The people nowadays don't have any respect for each other," said Thomas.

"How do you combat that?" asked Anderson.

"You keep doing what you're doing. You do a good job of advertising for the type of people you want," Thomas answered.

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