Even on a winter day, Clearwater Beach enjoys plenty of visitors to its white sandy shores. Now, it's receiving special recognition from the famous "Dr. Beach", Stephen Leatherman, coastal expert and Florida International University professor.
Leatherman included Clearwater in it's top ten Florida beach destination list in USA Today. "Volleyball heaven and some of the best girl and boy watching I've seen," said Leatherman. USA Today is sponsoring a poll for people to vote on their favorite beach out of the ten listed.
Longtime beach visitor Chris Duehring often drives two hours from Winter Haven to spend the day on Clearwater Beach.
"This place is unbelievable and I just love it, the water's always clean..you can't get a better beach. I don't care where we go. We've been on cruises..everyplace else..and this is my favorite," said Duehring.
The recognition from Dr. Beach brings more than just bragging rights. In 2008, when Caladesi State Park, near Dunedin, was named America's top beach, it drew a 25% increase in visitors the following year. " The amount of publicity that you garner from this is not only valuable to the park or to the beach..but it brings something to the local community," said Peter Krulder, park manager.
Visit St.Pete Clearwater, the area's tourism bureau, can also use the special recognition in advertising campaigns. Last year when Trip Advisor listed St. Pete Beach as it's top beach, the agency included the Trip Advisor logo in its billboards and signs. "It's a marketing tool you really can't buy. You can buy advertisements everywhere that say we're a great beach, but when you have the collective voice of Trip Advisor for example saying...yes 'You are the best beach,' it's much more powerful when someone else says it," said David Downing, director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.
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