On May 27, 2011, Siesta Beach was declared America’s best beach by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, better known as Dr. Beach. Siesta Key had suddenly laid a golden egg for the tourism industry in Sarasota, Florida, that could be valued as high as $446 million.
That’s because the 2011 list was Dr. Beach’s 21st annual list of the top 10 beaches in America and is now a tradition eagerly awaited by television, print and online media.
The day the list gets released just before Memorial Day is pure bedlam, with a flood of news mentions and blog posts, not to mention a viral wave on social media.
Dr. Beach stood on the white sands of Siesta Beach and gave interviews to “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show,” and the story also earned Siesta Key a home page listing on MSN.
The end result of all the free publicity and media profiles of the beach is a 15 to 20 percent increase in annual visitation numbers.
Last year, after Coopers Beach in Southampton, New York, topped the list (Siesta Beach was No. 2 on the 2010 list), it got a 15 percent bump in traffic and a $774,000 beach-access pass revenue increase.
Based on the 2.2 million visitors who came to Siesta Beach in 2010, that would mean another 330,000 to 440,000 visitors in 2011.
Sarasota County visitors who book a stay here spend an average of $124 per day and $1,013 overall. So Sarasota is looking at between $334.3 million to $446 million in potential increased tourism revenue.
Also, it makes for some great promotional material for the destination’s tourism marketing bureau.
The Sarasota CVB not only put out a press release touting the recognition, but also is using it on the bureau’s websites home page to entice visitors to “Experience the Best Beach in the USA.”
The CVB also has been quick to take advantage of the rise in search queries for Siesta Beach with Google ads titled “Siesta Beach #1,” which ask visitors to “see why Siesta Beach was ranked as #1 beach in the US by Dr. Beach!”
Siesta Beach has enjoyed the Dr. Beach bump for two years running now, in second and first place. But it’ll never get it again, because once a beach is listed as the best beach in America, it gets taken out of contention in subsequent years. But right now, Siesta Beach is getting ready with beach pails and shovels to collect the tourist dollars.