By Max Crampton-Thomas

4 min read October 2019 —  With more than 8 million visitors to Palm Beach County in 2018, it’s no secret that tourism is the driving force behind the economy in The Palm Beaches. Last year, these visitors generated $7.4 billion in economic impact and are the reason for over 70,000 tourism jobs. While the appeal of a relaxing beach vacation may seem like the obvious tourist magnet, there are so many different and unique facets of the county that drive the economic behemoth that is the tourism sector. Here is the Invest: Top 5 tourism drivers for The Palm Beaches

BEACHES

Palm Beach County is bordered by 47 miles of Atlantic coastline that offer some of the state’s most attractive beaches. These include Boynton Beach Ocean Park, Coral Cove Park, Juno Beach Park and many more, with a large portion of these beaches offering resort amenities and marine activities. The Palm Beach County coastline was also nicknamed Florida’s Gold Coast after gold was recovered from Spanish galleons that sank off its shores. A fitting nickname for beaches that are like gold to the Florida economy. Invest: spoke with Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of Discover The Palm Beaches, who touched on the importance of the beaches to the tourism industry in the county. “Leisure remains the most crucial tourism driver for The Palm Beaches, with meetings and conventions continuing to gain momentum. Within the leisure tourism market, our beaches are the biggest draw for not only those seeking to relax and rejuvenate, but also those interested in activities such as boating, fishing, scuba diving, kayaking and paddleboarding,” Pesquera told Invest:. 

You can learn more about the county’s best beaches here: https://www.thepalmbeaches.com/blogs/best-beaches-are-palm-beaches

ARTS & CULTURE

Home to cultural institutions like the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, The Palm Beaches are an arts and culture hub that drives many cultural travelers to the area. Invest: discussed with Judith Mitchell, CEO for the Kravis Center, how this increased interest from out-of-town visitors has positively affected her business as well as those in the surrounding area. “Our strong programming and marketing teams ensure that we continue to bring the best of Broadway and other diverse performances that attract audiences from outside the state and from cities north and south of the Center. In 2018-2019, the Center saw an increase in out-of-county audience members by nearly 50%. This also has a positive economic impact on the surrounding hotels, restaurants and shops as these nonresident guests choose to dine, shop and stay overnight before or after attending a performance.” 

For more on the various arts and culture destinations in the county, visit: https://www.palmbeachculture.com/

SPORTS

For an area that doesn’t have a major professional sports franchise, the county’s tourism market has a strong driver in the sports tourism market. It helps that among Palm Beach County’s various monikers, one of the titles held most proudly is “The Golf Capital of Florida,” boasting more than 150 public and private golf courses. It also doesn’t hurt that Major League Baseball teams, namely the Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, call Palm Beach County their home during spring training. For those who prefer alternative sports, The Palm Beaches are also the location of polo and equestrian events, including a variety of International Polo Club tournaments. 

Interested in learning more about sports offerings in The Palm Beaches? Visit: https://www.palmbeachsports.com/

ECO-TOURISM

When a county boasts 110 parks and recreation facilities paired with 35 natural areas that make up more than 31,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands, it is bound to attract eco-tourists. This form of tourism may seem obscure from an outside perspective, but it not only can provide visitors with a memorable experience, it also provides health benefits as well. Invest: recently sat down with Deborah Drum, department director of Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management, who spoke to this tourism driver and its benefits. “We have conducted economic studies of our natural areas. We have over 300,000 visitors just to the natural areas in our county. These are remote areas that offer more passive types of recreation, including hiking, fishing or bird-watching. We have done a study with the University of Florida on this passive connection and we have determined that these visitors are coming for that purpose. There have also been a number of studies about the connection between mental health and time spent in natural areas or spent outside. There is a positive relationship between the reduction in mental health issues with more time spent out in nature,” Drum explained. 

Check out more on Palm Beach County’s Natural Areas Map: http://discover.pbcgov.org/erm/Pages/Natural-Areas-Map.aspx

MEETINGS & CONVENTIONS

There is a direct correlation between the increase in business tourism to The Palm Beaches and the economic and business growth that the county is enjoying. The beneficiaries from this driver of tourism are a wide range of business types, from hotels to restaurants and even retail. Discover The Palm Beaches’ Pesquera highlighted just how significant this is to the tourism market. “On the meetings front, we’ve seen a 567-percent increase over the last several years in groups booked at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Unlike our good friends in Miami and Fort Lauderdale — where there is a clear and established epicenter of tourism activity — The Palm Beaches are truly a collection of midsize to small cities and towns that altogether deliver an exceptional vacation or meeting experience,” Pesquera told Invest:.

For more on this and the tourism industry in Palm Beach County, visit: 

www.thepalmbeaches.com/