Visit Florida Promotes Local Tourism from Chicago

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PANAMA CITY BEACH -- It may not feel much like beach weather right now, but everything is relative. In Chicago there's snow everywhere.

Bay County tourist development council staff has just returned from Chicago, where they participated in a tourist recruiting event.

Chicago's trains recently received a makeover. Some of the cars are now displaying photos of Panama City Beach. The idea is for Chicagoans to see the pictures, hop on a plane to the real place, and stick their feet in the sand.

PR Manager, TDC David Demarest said, "While they're riding the elevated trains that they have there, they'll be able to see the water see the white sand so it's just a perfect time to plan a vacation for them."

Chicago trains weren't the only enticements for the folks from the windy city. Panama City TDC set up at sunny beach scene at a Chicago mall complete with beach chairs and sand.

"We were there for five days, so five days…hundreds and hundreds of family portraits and the idea is that those photos will go viral. We were able to e-mail them to them. They can tag themselves in it. They share it on Facebook they share it on Instagram and now all their family and friends see them in Panama City Beach."

The TDC is hoping more people from Illinois will discover what some of their northern neighbors already know.

Canadian Visitor Glenn Guialbault said, "There is nice shopping which my wife enjoys and the sand on the beach is very nice so…"

Glenn Guialbault and his wife drove to Panama City Beach from Ottawa, Canada. They'll be here until March.

Guialbaul said there is one main difference from the beaches in Ottawa and the beaches here.
"No ocean and no sand, sand beaches like this in our area,” he said.

This is the Guialbaul’s first visit to Panama City Beach, but they say they'll definitely come back again.

The TDC's visit to Chicago was part of a larger promotional event staged by Visit Florida.