The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.
Issue link: http://digital.smallmarketmeetings.com/i/764451
www.smallmarketmeetings.com 20 Destination Showcase LOCATION Northwest Florida Panhandle including Destin, Ft. Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island ACCESS Highway 98, Fort Walton Beach Airport, Pensacola International Airport, Northwest Florida International Airport. MAJOR MEETING SPACES Emerald Coast Convention Center, The Henderson, Ramada Plaza Beach Resort, Palms of Destin, Emerald Grand HOTEL ROOMS Thousands, from budget to luxurious OFF-SITE VENUES Gulfarium, Amusement USA – Harbor Walk Village, Big Kahuna's Water & Adventure Park CONTACT INFO Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau 800-322-3319 www.emeraldcoastfl.com An Abundance Of Riches By Dan Dickson F L O R I D A ' S E M E R A L D C O A S T O pen a bag of sugar, plunge a measuring cup inside and slowly pour out the sweet granules: That's the image tourism directors and meeting planners hope you'll take away after visiting the Emerald Coast, a 100-mile stretch of Northwest Florida's Panhandle along the Gulf Coast. The region's name was coined in the 1980s. "It comes from the color of the water here," said Maureen Morgenthien, deputy director of sales and marketing for the Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. "The sunshine, combined with the pure white sand we have, creates this image of the water looking emerald green. It's that vibrant a color." The Emerald Coast includes Destin, Fort Walton Beach and a geographic area known as Okaloosa Island. All three are located along Highway 98 between Pensacola and Panama City Beach. Visitors love to fish, golf, boat and do a wide variety of water sports, like diving, snorkeling and sailing. Geocaching, bird-watching and other beach activities are also popular. In addition, the Gulf to Table food trend is big. There are many fine restau- rants at which to dine on the freshest seafood anyone could imagine. In addition to the thousands of tourists who flock to the Emerald Coast, the area draws local and regional events, sports teams, dance and cheer competitions, and small corporate meetings. Many government and military groups meet there as well because of the area's proximity to Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field, another Air Force installation. "Part of my job is to increase group business, and conferences and meetings," said Morgenthien. "We welcome any and all of that business." The community has impressive meeting facilities large and small, and outstanding accommodations to make any group members feel comfortable in their surroundings. Whether a planner is organizing a meeting, a group activity or a special event, the CVB staff is more than willing to assist. Above: Sugary sands and deep green waters are hallmarks of Florida's Emerald Coast. Left: Destin Commons offers shopping, dining and entertainment.