By: Pat Kelly/Panama City News Herald
Panama City Beach has been named one of the Top 10 budget destinations for 2011 by AOL Travel.
Coming on the heels of CNN.com travel writers naming the area one of the Top 5 winter vacation spots, the AOL list mingles Panama City Beach with such sites as Cancun, Mexico, New Orleans, and Montreal, Canada.
The AOL story touts the recent visit by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michele Obama and the May opening of the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.
â€œPlus there are lots of hotels with rooms priced at less than $100 a night,â€ according to AOL travel writer Alison Lowenstein, who gives several examples. â€œGo now before the annual Spring Break herds arrive.â€
The article also notes that although â€œthis Gulf Coast beach town is still trying to recover from the devastating economic impactâ€ from the BP oil spill, the beaches are now oil-free. Also named in AOLâ€™s Top 10 list were Washington, D.C.; Atlantic City, N.J.; and Athens, Greece.
Dan Rowe, executive director of the Bay County Tourist Development Council (TDC), said in a press release he was thrilled Panama City Beach was included in AOLâ€™s list, especially with the areaâ€™s large array of dining and entertainment options.
â€œWe are proud that our Real.Fun.Beach. destination is considered an affordable hot spot for 2011,â€ he said.
According to the TDC, AOL Travel is a news website with about 1.7 million unique monthly viewers and more than 12,000 Twitter followers.
The AOL listings were not ranked by number, but CNN.comâ€™s Top 5 list put Panama City Beach at No. 3, just behind Costa Rica and Lima, Peru, but ahead of Boston and London/Paris.