Feb. 26th,2021, Original Article Here: St. Pete Beach voted top beach destination…
St. Pete Beach voted top beach destination in U.S., fifth in the world!
ST. PETE BEACH — This beach city can claim some bragging rights after not only being voted the No. 1 beach destination in the United States by travelers using Tripadvisor, but also their fifth-most favorite beach in the world.
“Now the secret is out. We’ve always known we have the best beach, but now everyone else knows it,” said Mayor Al Johnson at a Feb. 23 ceremony
on the beach, where the city received its Tripadvisor trophy in the shape of a surfboard. “It’s a great recognition for us, of course. We owe it all to the fact that we have such a wonderful place to visit, incredibly maintained by our city staff and all the directors of the different departments.”
The award is based on the quality and quantity of reviews and ratings from Tripadvisor travelers for beaches, gathered over a 12-month period.
“We work real hard as a commission to make sure we maintain what we have here in this paradise,” Johnson said. “We’re just happy as we can be to be up here in the top. We like the recognition, but by the same token, we just like having people come visit and see what a nice place we have here. We’re so fortunate and blessed.”
In an interview with the Beacon, Johnson said the award helps out the business community in what has been a tough year for tourism.
The mayor noted that while St. Pete Beach provides the county with a significant amount of bed tax dollars, funded by visitors staying at hotels and motels, the city does not get county funding for infrastructure improvements, such as upgrading its sewer system or improving its stormwater drainage system against flooding and tidal surges. He hopes the recognition sparks county officials to provide more funding for those issues.
He added that Pinellas County is lucky to have four beach cities in Tripadvisor’s top twenty list. Madeira Beach made the top ten as ninth-favorite with vacationers, who praised its “very nice, flat beaches. You can enjoy a very nice walk on the beach for miles.” Treasure Island, which came in 16th, was touted for having “wide open spaces and panoramic views of incredible sunsets (that) make this the perfect place to come and relax.” Clearwater Beach came in 18th.
“We are so grateful that Tripadvisor has recognized the city of St. Pete Beach in this capacity. We were recognized maybe over a decade ago by the state of Florida, naming St. Pete Beach as the Sunset Capital of the World, and now we have the No. 1 beach,” said St. Pete Beach Commissioner Melinda Pletcher, who is also a member of the county Tourist Development Council.
“It because we are respecting and prioritizing our natural resources, and that is the sugary white sand on the beach,” she said. “We do that in several ways, and we’ve been doing it for a long time, which is why we are here today. We have administration, we have city employees, we have the business community and we have residents who make sure that when they come to the beach it’s a great experience for everybody. So get out of the cold and come on down to St. Pete Beach, because it’s a great crowd, it’s safe, there’s fresh air and sunshine, and you’re always guaranteed a positive experience.”
Steve Hayes, president and chief executive of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, said the organization takes Tripadvisor’s awards seriously. “We have been home to the number one beach for four of the past six years, but after a devastating 2020 for travel, we’re especially honored to receive the Travelers’ Choice Award this year,” Hayes said. “Our communities, including St. Pete Beach and Madeira Beach, have done an amazing job building these great destinations and keeping their beaches pristine for travelers from near and far.”
Visit St Pete/Clearwater noted St. Pete Beach is “known for its friendly, laid-back vibe, soft white beaches and stellar accommodations.” It was named Tripadvisor’s second-most favorite U.S. beach in 2020, and this year tops the list for the first time among travelers using the travel guidance website.
Visitors praised the barrier island for having a “a great walking beach with white quartz sand, clear calm water and seashells by the truckload. The most perfect place to watch the sun set over the ocean.”
County Commissioner Charlie Justice also attended the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce ceremony on the sand at St. Pete Beach on Feb. 23. “Welcoming visitors is what we do in Pinellas County. It’s what we do on our beaches here,” he said. “I’m a Pinellas County native. I know how good we have it here in Pinellas County; I know how beautiful our beaches are. I know how welcoming our hotels, restaurants and our tourism industry is. But it’s also nice when the experts from outside come and tell you, ‘You know what? You are really good. You are No. 1.’”
Tourism had an economic impact of $6.6 billion in the county in the last fiscal year. But that’s about $2 billion lower than normal because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“What’s really critical is almost 70,000 jobs, 70,000 families, rely on the tourism industry,” Justice said. “We’re excited because we want the world to know we’ve got the No. 1 beach in the world right here in Pinellas County.”
Christine Maguire, vice president and general manager of global media business at Tripadvisor, said a survey by the web site revealed that 60% of travelers are very likely to take a beach trip in 2021. “Your last trip to the beach probably feels like a lifetime ago, but with vaccine programs rolling out worldwide, safely making that beach getaway a reality just might be in reach,” she said.
Of the 25 best beaches in the U.S., Florida and Hawaii dominate the list, with over 30% of the winners located in the Sunshine State and almost 30% in the Aloha State.
Tripadvisor’s Top 25 U.S. Beaches (Florida honorees in bold)
- St. Pete Beach, Florida
- Ka’anapali Beach, Hawaii
- Moonstone Beach, California
- Wailea Beach, Hawaii
- Cannon Beach, Oregon
- Napili Beach, Hawaii
- Ogunquit Beach, Maine
- Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hawaii
- Madeira Beach, Florida
- Kailua Beach Park, Hawaii
- Driftwood Beach, Georgia
- Ormond Beach, Florida
- Henderson Beach State Park, Florida
- La Jolla Cove, California
- Pensacola Beach, Florida
- Treasure Island Beach, Florida
- Siesta Beach, Florida
- Clearwater Beach, Florida
- Coligny Beach, South Carolina
- Coronado Beach
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Poipu Beach Park, Hawaii
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
- Santa Monica State Beach, California
Tripadvisor’s Top 5 Worldwide
- Whitehaven Beach, Australia
- Santa Maria Beach, Cuba
- Baia do Sancho, Brazil
- Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos
- St. Pete Beach, Florida