Students wanting to attend the MTV-filmed Beach Scene Music Festival will have to look further than Panama City, Fla., this year and possibly for many years to come.
The Panama City Council refused to sign the permits for the annual music festival, which was to include The Black Eyed Peas, Lady GaGa and Green Day. It also decided to stop working with MTV.
After a particularly wild spring break last year, in which two people were stabbed during a Lil’ Wayne performance, the Panama City Council is looking to change the image of the popular spring break hot spot, said Chad Hart of Inertia Tours, a spring break tourism company based in Austin, Texas.
Instead of appealing to just college-aged partiers, Panama City would like to expand its tourism base, Hart said.
The local airport recently changed its name from Northwest Florida-Panama City International Airport to Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport to help promote a more family-friendly vacationing atmosphere.
The local airport authority “voted to remove the spring break mecca’s name to appeal to a wider range of tourists,” according to USA Today.
Hart said the two main hotspots in the U.S. are South Padre Island in Texas and Panama City.
In the past, more than half a million students have flocked to Panama City to enjoy the music festival and the beaches. With the MTV-affiliated concerts being moved to Mexico however, tourism companies are wondering how students will respond, Hart said.
Despite the city council’s decision, Hart said he hasn’t seen a significant drop in business.
“People still want to go somewhere,” he said. “ It just depends on how high the costs are.”
Hart also said he is disappointed with MTV’s decision to move its spring break party to Acapulco Bay, Mexico.
“MTV misjudged, they should have gone with Cancun,” he said. “They are probably going to lose 75 to 80 percent of spring breakers because it’s too expensive.”
Upon hearing of Panama City’s decision, Cancun dropped its rates right away to encourage displaced students.
According to the spring break travel Web site Inertiatours.com, for four friends to share a larger hotel room in Acapulco for five all-inclusive nights, it costs $1,155.97 per person, including roundtrip airfare. Cancun, generally, costs a few hundred dollars less. Hart noticed students going through Inertia Tours are looking for places they can drive to.
“They want to be able to put all their friends in a Chevy Suburban and split the gas costs,” he said. “They don’t want to spend their money on expensive airfare.”