National Travel and Tourism week is an event marking the large impact travel has on the U.S. economy. Established by a congressional resolution in 1983, travel and tourism professionals across the country host a variety of events, rallies and out reach programs to strengthen this fun and amazing component of local and national economies. Yes! Travel isn’t just good for your mental health, but for success as a country too!
National Travel and Tourism Week – Faces of Travel May 7-13, 2017
This year the U.S. National Travel Association chose the theme “Faces of Travel” highlighting the millions of individuals who work to keep the industry alive. Each year over 15 million people work in jobs supported by travel!
Anna Maria Island – Faces of Travel
In keeping with this years theme, Island Real Estate is highlighting some of the amazing local faces who both thrive on and support our local travel industry. Because travel and tourism are such a strong economic factor in Florida, we applaud those who keep Anna Maria Island travel a driving force of local viability.
We reached out to industry locals and asked, “Why do you think Anna Maria Island is the best beach vacation destination in Florida?” Here’s what they had to say.
Jo-ann Lefner – Owner of Bella by the Sea Boutique on Anna Maria Island
“The sun on your face, the sand on your toes, credit card in hand to shop the cutest boutiques all on one island. Ask me what’s better than that…maybe a Margarita at sunset!”
The Ciardullo Family Frank, Kathy and Kristi – Vacation Rental Owners – Fernweh in Holmes Beach
“We had never heard of the word Fernweh, but once we discovered its meaning we knew it was the perfect name for our home as it could best describe the feelings that Anna Maria Island brings, being homesick for a place you’ve never been.”
Larry Chatt – Owner of Island Real Estate of Anna Maria Island
“I have made it a point to travel within Florida to A LOT of beach destinations. Over the years I get a lot of questions like, “What is Anna Maria Island like compared to xxxx , Florida.” So over the years I have visited at least 20 beach locations in Florida so I knew the question to that answer!
Cedar Key, Siesta Key, Englewood, Fort Myers Beach, Clearwater Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, Boca Grande, St. Augustine, Destin, Panama City, Fort Lauderdale, Flagler Beach, Cocoa Beach. With the Exception of West of Panama City Beach and areas of Miami Beach I have driven the entire coast of Florida and have stayed in at least 20 beach communities. Of course every location has it’s pros and cons but using the following criteria there are no other locations I have seen in Florida much less the world that measures up to Anna Maria Island.
Quality of the sand and beach. Our sand is like confectionery sugar. Other Gulf Coast locations have a similar whiteness but it is littered with shells and is not as soft or the beach is absolutely packed with patrons. I have been unable to replicate our beach anywhere along the coast of Florida or for that matter on the EAST coast or West Coast of the United States. There is plenty of beautiful soft sand beach for everyone due to the low rise nature of our destination!
Family friendly. Too often Florida beach destinations have a high rise nature to them and have been commercialized. It is hard to explain, we occasionally visit an establishment within a location that gives authenticity to the destination but we often waste the rest of our vacation looking for lightning in a bottle again. I have personally witnessed this in several locations across the world let alone Florida. I could never find more than one place per destination that gave me that feeling we all yearn for when taking family vacations. A togetherness as a family captivated and enhanced by the authentic overall feeling provided by the destination. It is difficult to describe but once you find it you want to experience it over and over again as a family. Anna Maria Island is littered with similar stories of successful corporate leaders that found paradise on Anna Maria Island. They quit their job to live and work in paradise. I am a perfect example of such a story.
Dining friendly. Anna Maria Island dining choices measure up against beach communities 10 times as large! The best way to explain it is old Florida but with plenty of authentic places to shop and eat. You can dine in a different location every night of the week and not have one bad meal. I will admit I have found some very old Florida locations along the beach coast but I would have to travel 25 minutes to have more than a few restaurant choices.
In summary I have not found any beach locations with the quality of our sand, low density nature of our beaches but with plenty of authentic shopping and dining choices. Anna Maria Island is not just one retail location that creates an old Florida feeling. The authentic nature of our destination is emulated across our entire community. Whether it be a free trolley ride down to one of many dining choices in one of our three cities or a walk along the beach grabbing a cocktail at a beach front restaurant. If you yearn for the three main amenities our destination provides, you won’t be sorry finding a way to visit Anna Maria Island. I have done A LOT of research on the subject and across our wonderful coastal state I have been unable to replicate anything close to the amenities Anna Maria Island has to offer families searching for authentic old Florida.”
Yvonne Callahan – Vacation Rental Owner – Mango Breeze in Holmes Beach
“The island is laid back paradise with life in the slow lane, no high rise hotels and the small quaint streets with many fun casual dining places and beaches with white sand for your toes.”
Caryn Hodge – Marketing Director of Chiles Restaurant Group – The Sandbar, Beach House and Mar Vista
“Anna Maria Island is unlike any place in the world. Although most well-known for its pristine, sugar-soft sand beaches, Anna Maria also offers visitors an opportunity to slow down, step back to a time when things were simpler, and to experience old Florida in a variety of ways.
On Anna Maria you can park your car and forget about it as you ride the free trolley, walk or bike to your destination for dining, boutique shopping, live music, a stroll on the pier or whatever way you want to experience all the island has to offer.
Void of high rises and not overrun with corporate stores, the island hosts mostly locally owned, independent businesses that offer one-of-a-kind products and services. Award winning dining, excursions for every level of activity, and friendly locals make us a repeat destination for many visitors. Affordable, rich in history, enjoyable and unique. Anna Maria is the perfect place to experience true Old Florida the way it was meant to be.”
Melissa Fletcher – Vacation Rental Owner – Beach Escape in Holmes Beach
“That smell, that beachy smell and oh the sunsets. Nothing describes the beautiful colors in the night sky! From the fun activities at Holmes Beach to the warm breeze at Bean Point! The Tiki bars at Bradenton Beach to the ice cream at Two Scoops! This island is my home away from home!”
Captain Kyle Taylor – Anna Maria Inshore Fishing Charters
“Anna Maria Island has some of the best beaches, weather, lifestyle, dining, and fishing that people look for in a travel destination. Some travel destinations can only claim one or two of these qualities. We have it all here, in one quaint package and we call it Anna Maria Island.”
Emma Brooks – Vacation Rental Owner – Beachy Blue in Holmes Beach
“This beautiful island is our little piece of paradise, the sun makes your heart shine! Stay at Beachy Blue steps away from the turquoise seas and close to some great restaurants and wonderful boutiques”
Deb Wing – President Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce
“Anna Maria Island (AMI for short) definitely lives up to its award winning accolades with clear turquoise blue waters, white sandy beaches, year round warm weather, eco-friendly terrain and abundant wildlife. Personally, I find it to be the most beautiful, laid back and least developed island on the West Coast of Florida, which is why I find it so appealing. The resorts, accommodations, restaurants, beauty and things to do in this paradise attract national and international travelers. AMI offers a taste of just about everything that people find charming about Florida – with dolphins playing, manatees swimming, turtles nesting, beautiful birds fishing, as well as an impressive history and culture – it’s a #1 destination”
Bradenton Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau – PR and Outreach Specialist – Kasara Morison
“There are many reasons why Anna Maria Island is the best beach vacation destination in Florida. A year-round summery vibe and warm, secluded feel work wonders on Anna Maria, making this the ultimate Florida beach retreat. Whether a nature lover, serenity seeker or beachgoer, there’s something for everyone on this easy to explore, coastal gem. The cozy and quaint feel of Anna Maria Island, makes it feel like a trip back in time to this paradise that hasn’t changed much since the 70’s and definitely has that “old Florida” feel. The numerous award-winning beaches, restaurants and events make Anna Maria Island the perfect relaxation spot for your next vacation.”
As you can see from their responses, locals who make our travel industry thrive absolutely love Anna Maria Island!
And we can’t forget! A super big thank you to the over 1 million travelers who come to Anna Maria Island every year! You too help maintain the economic vitality of our little island community!
Plan a trip to Anna Maria Island today during National Travel and Tourism Week!