Visit Pensacola

Greater Pensacola Chamber

  The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce recently celebrated 125 years of service, and is now looking ahead to the future.

The Chamber held its annual meeting recently in downtown Pensacola, outlining the previous year’s accomplishments – an 18% increase in membership to about 1,300; about 50 ribbon-cuttings for new or expanding business, and a similar number of educational and networking events.

Local tourism took center stage Thursday, as the destination marketing organization Visit Pensacola unveiled its five-year blueprint for increasing the numbers who come for a visit.

This is National Travel and Tourism week, with Pensacola joining other U.S. cities in celebrating the impact visitors have on local economies.

On Thursday, Visit Pensacola will unveil its five-year strategic plan – “Destination 2020” – which is aimed at revving up the area’s tourism industry. Visit Pensacola President Steve Hayes says they brought in some speakers, and heard from local tourism officials, elected officials, business owners and residents.

Photo via Flickr// Matt Deavenport /

If you wondered why you spent a little more time in line at attractions last year, or it took a bit longer to find an unoccupied spot at the beach, the numbers are in to explain.

Almost 4%  more people came to the Sunshine State in 2014 over the previous year, according to figures released by Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm. That’s inching closer to an annual goal sought by Gov. Rick Scott.

“This is a great day: 97.3 million tourists,” said the Governor. “I look forward to passing 100 million tourists.”

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper provides analysis of Governor Rick Scott’s recommended education budget, the improving housing industry, and Visit Florida’s “Destination 2020” tourism plan.

In his "Keep Florida Working" budget plan for 2015-2016, Gov. Scott is proposing historic per pupil funding of $7,176, an increase of $50 over the previous record for fiscal year 2007-2008. 

Visit Pensacola recently kicked off “Destination 2020” -- a four-month strategic planning course, on the future of local tourism.

More than 150 people attended the opening session, the first of a half-dozen community-based meetings in Pensacola, Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach this month and in February.

  Seven local advertising agencies are teaming up to work with the group Visit Pensacola as “Showcase Pensacola” which will market the area to potential visitors.

Work on promotional and public relations projects for Showcase has been going on since early spring, by the Appleyard Agency, E.W. Bullock Associates, Ideaworks, IDGroup, Southern Media, AC Advertising and Duncan McCall. Dick Appleyard says normally, they’re a very competitive lot.

After months of preparation, the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce is ready to launch a separate agency for economic development. Among other things, it gets the Chamber out from under Florida’s Sunshine Law.

Chamber President Jerry Maygarden proposed the separation last year and on Monday, the chamber’s Board of Directors approved it during a special meeting. The Pensacola-Escambia County Promotion and Economic Development Commission is an independent 501(c) entity, much like the tourism promoter Visit Pensacola.

2930 Creative

So Pensacon 2014 is behind us with the upper limits of organizers' predictions being reached, the Pensacola Bay Center floor reaching capacity several times Saturday, and downtown nightlife establishments reporting a busy weekend.

Later this week Visit Pensacola, who collected data during the convention, will have hard numbers to put on this impact but as the memories of Pensacon start to fade I chatted with Manda Manning, part of the Pensacon team, about the challenges and successes of the weekend and what we can look forward to next year.