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Emerald Coast Traveler Update: Who’s Visiting and Why?

Last November, we shared with you encouraging statistics about Northwest Florida’s healthy tourism outlook. The regions served by The Premier Property Group are witnessing attractive trends in terms of visitor growth, economic impact and real estate investment.

Simply put, it’s an exciting time to own property along the Emerald Coast. As March initiates the beginning of Spring Break mania, and our local communities all brace for—and embrace—the coming high tourist season, we thought it would be a great time to see what the average visitor to the Florida panhandle looks in terms of demographics. Here’s a snapshot:

Visitor Profiles
A CY2018 report from Visit South Walton found that of the more than 4.1 million visitors to the region, nearly 40% had visited area beaches previously. The median age is 53 with an average household income of $223,600. Most (56%) travel with children under the age of 20, and each person delivers an economic impact of $1,126. A 2017 report from Visit Panama City Beach found that visitors travel in groups of approximately four during the spring and summer months.

Notably, visitor satisfaction in both reports was high: 95% said they would return to South Walton, and visitors to Panama City Beach ranked their experiences a 4.5 (out of 5) or higher year-round.

Where are they coming from?
According to reports, the vast majority of visitors hail from the South (TX), Southeast (GA, AL, TN, FL, LA, KY, AR, MS)  or Midwest (MO, IL, OH, IN) United States. In South Walton, visitors from the Midwest accounted for 19% of the total, and only about 8% originated from the West and Northeast United States. International travelers accounted for 3%, and the states of Georgia, Texas, Alabama and Tennessee contributed more than 10% each towards visitor totals.

Where are they staying?
The majority of visitors to Panama City Beach and the Emerald Coast stayed in a condominium—more than 50% and 75% respectively. In Panama City Beach, nearly 30% of travelers stayed in a hotel.

How are they getting here?
The Emerald Coast and neighboring regions are primarily a drive-to market with 84% choosing that option in South Walton.

Why are they coming?
Not surprisingly, 94% of visitors to South Walton spent time at the beach, and between 75% and 87% were here to enjoy family time, relax and unwind. More than 90% of visitors said they dined at a local restaurant, and 72% took in some shopping. Other activities that ranked high among visitors included biking, water sports, bars, nightclubs, golf, tennis, hiking, and eco-tourism.

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