When the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) opens later this year in Panama City Beach, it will create a nonstop gateway to the meeting venues and sandy white beaches of Panama City, Sandestin, Seaside and other Beaches of South Walton communities in northwest Florida (formerly known as the Panhandle).
Southwest Airlines recently announced it will be ECP’s first major carrier. Beginning May 23, 2010, the airline will offer nonstop service to ECP from Baltimore, Md. (BWI); Nashville, Tenn. (BNA); Houston, Texas (HOU); and Orlando, Fla. (MCO).
Frommer’s Travel Guide recently ranked the region one of its top 12 destinations in the world for 2010, thanks to its budget-friendly prices, nationally protected seashore, family friendly activities and artistic communities.Traditionally, more than 90 percent of the region’s visitors have arrived by car.
“The new airport — and more competitive air service — will be a real boost for tourism and business travel across the entire region,” stated Sonny Mares, executive director of the Beaches of South Walton Tourist Development Council.
Forty percent of the land in Walton County is preserved as state parks and forests. In line with the community’s commitment to sustainable building and preservation of natural habitat, the new airport grounds will include a 41,000-acre West Bay Preservation Area with habitat corridors, open space and stream protection meant to preserve the entire watershed.