Pensacola’s Gulf Islands National Seashore Named “Best Florida Beach”

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Visit Pensacola thanks locals and visitors for their votes and support in the online competition

The sugar-white sands of Fort Pickens Beach along the Gulf Islands National Seashore

The Gulf Islands National Seashore has a special character and beauty of its own.

The Pensacola Bay Area just added one more prestigious award to a long list of accolades. "USA TODAY" recently announced that the Gulf Islands National Seashore won the title of Best Florida Beach in its 10Best Readers’ Choice poll.

“The Pensacola Bay Area, in particular the Gulf Islands National Seashore, has a special character and beauty of its own, and it's great to have "USA TODAY" confirm what past visitors and locals already know,” said Steve Hayes, president of Visit Pensacola.

Online votes from the public determined the outcome of the award. Visit Pensacola launched an aggressive social media campaign to showcase the Gulf Islands National Seashore’s beautiful soft-white sands and emerald-green waters, an effort spearheaded by Communications Manager Brooke Fleming.

The campaign included dispersing more than 10,000 “vote daily” cards, purchasing the URL http://www.beachvote.com to make voting for the National Seashore quick and easy, taking to the airwaves to urge locals to vote online and organizing a social media crusade. Visit Pensacola enlisted the help of several celebrities with local ties to help promote the campaign, such as two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and World Wrestling Entertainment stars Scott Armstrong, Roman Reigns, the Uso Brothers and Brian G. James.

“I’m so grateful for the incredibly supportive community we have here in the Pensacola Bay Area,” says Fleming. “Not only have our locals been voting, but we also have very loyal visitors who were taking the time out of their day to vote, as well.”

"USA TODAY" launched the campaign to select the Best Florida Beach on February 19. A panel of Florida travel experts scoured the Sunshine State's 663 miles of beach to narrow their top 20 choices for the contest. The public was encouraged to vote daily until the campaign ended on Monday, March 16.

This award continues the area’s string of national recognition. TripAdvisor's annual Travelers' Choice Awards for best beaches was announced in mid-February and Pensacola Beach ranked No. 5 out of the top 25 best beaches in the United States. The American Planning Association named downtown’s Palafox Street one of the “10 Great Streets in America” and CNN Travel named the Flora-Bama and LandShark Landing at Margaritaville Beach Hotel two of the “50 Best Beach Bars in the World” in 2013.

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About Visit Pensacola
Visit Pensacola leads the effort of economic development through tourism in Escambia County. Comprised of over 200-member businesses, Visit Pensacola’s mission is to position the Pensacola Bay Area as a premier year-round travel destination through tourism marketing, communications, meetings and conventions, reunions and group tour initiatives. For more information about Visit Pensacola, call 1-800-874-1234 (toll-free) or go to VisitPensacola.com.

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Sara Daniel
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