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People’s Choice Awards

3 Panhandle Beaches Land in TripAdivisor’s Top 25

Online review sites are transforming the way consumers make buying decisions, with more than 93 percent of respondents reporting that online reviews shape their purchases. In fact, a survey on reports that most consumers place as much trust in online reviews as they do in feedback from friends.

These impacts apply to travel as well, with a recent TripAdvisor survey reporting that most  visitors felt more confident booking travel after reading online reviews. The survey reported that 72 percent of respondents read reviews before deciding where to eat, stay or visit. This is potentially a huge number given that the travel giant registers 490 million unique visitors. Stated simply, TripAdvisor remains a trusted source of travel information, which is potentially great news for a region that benefits from tourism and travel.

Notably, TripAdvisor recently published its list of Top 25 U.S. Beaches, and three Emerald Coast destinations landed on the list: Panama City Beach at #3, Pensacola Beach at #5, and Navarre Beach at #12. Although the three beaches all share our region’s pure white sand and crystal clear waters, reviewers found unique reasons to love each of the areas.

  • Panama City Beach earned “excellent” ratings from 78 percent of reviewers who cited the presence of eco-tourism opportunities and the affordability of their visit as the reason for the high marks. Scuba diving, golf and local state parks prompted users to rate Panama City Beach high as well.
  • Pensacola Beach earned “excellent” ratings from 81 percent of reviewers, with a large share of users finding smaller crowds appealing and enjoying proximity to the Blue Angels Navy demonstration pilots. Others pointed to the unobstructed beach views and the wide variety of free activities available in the area.
  • Navarre Beach earned “excellent” ratings from 87 percent of reviewers who appreciated its smaller crowds and lack of what they consider “touristy” attractions. Visitors to Navarre Beach appreciated a family-friendly atmosphere, great opportunities for stargazing at night and diverse, local food offerings rather than countless large-chain restaurants.

With almost half of TripAdvisor users landing inside the coveted 18-34 age group, younger generations are driving the trend toward online reviews. They tend to stretch their research over a longer span of time, and they choose less expensive destinations that others recommend to them.


  • Younger travelers are using more digital channels to research and book their accommodations than older travelers.
  • Guests read between 6 and 12 reviews before booking accommodations.
  • Younger travelers typically begin their research by comparing destinations.
  • Older travelers tend to travel habitually to the same destination.
  • Younger travelers were as likely to visit the beach as they were to visit a city or family and friends.
  • Although younger travelers trust online reviews, fewer of them provide reviews about their experiences after-the-fact.

In short, the news continues to be good for the Emerald Coast and its 100 miles of shoreline. As travelers increasingly look to online reviews to shape their travel decisions, the mountain of excellent reviews for local beaches points to continued success for the area.

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