vie magazine subscribe button

Transportation at Its Finest

Getting You from Here to There

By Alan Roberts Photography by Sheila Goode

With the continued growth of our area, tourists are using Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), located just north of Panama City Beach, at an escalating rate. Getting from there to wherever your final destination may be isn’t always easy. Sunshine Shuttle and Limousine has been helping people go to and fro since 2004, but a significant milestone occurred this past April: the board of directors at ECP decided it was time to further promote the area by offering a positive and family-friendly solution to “getting around town.” Thus, Sunshine Shuttle was accepted as the first and only car service kiosk inside the airport terminal, where guests can reserve transportation needs near the baggage claim area, instead of calling a taxi service. This on-site transportation was greatly needed—according to customer surveys taken at the airport—and Sunshine could not be prouder to meet the community’s request.

This year-round service reduces vehicular traffic, increases safety in the area by removing thousands of rental cars from the roads, and serves as a positive branding opportunity for the Emerald Coast, due to the company’s high level of customer service and professionalism. “Sunshine Shuttle provides a great first impression for visitors coming to Northwest Florida,” states Paul Wohlford, vice president of sales and marketing for The Resort Collection of Panama City Beach, one of the area’s largest hospitality providers. “Their vehicles are always clean and their staff is professional, friendly, and on time. The most reoccurring word we hear from our guests when describing Sunshine is all-encompassing: reliable.”


VIE Magazine Transporation at its finest Alan Roberts Sheila Goode Rolls Royce

VIE Magazine Transporation at its finest Alan Roberts Sheila Goode Rolls Royce

Upon arrival, airport patrons are greeted by a professional transportation specialist at the kiosk, where they are immediately treated with respect and professionalism, which makes a big difference for the weary traveler. Whether guests book a Town Car or a passenger van, the company operates with a determination to “drive and deliver” at ECP (and all other Emerald Coast airports).


VIE Magazine Transporation at its finest Alan Roberts Sheila Goode Rolls Royce

Across the United States, over twenty fixed-base operators (FBOs) and regional and international airports are turning to single sources to provide all their ground transportation needs. Managing over forty cab companies at an airport and ensuring that each one is up to date on its insurance and maintenance for every vehicle—not to mention keeping tabs on every driver working every day—takes hours of labor that could be better spent elsewhere. Imagine the expenses involved if Yankee Stadium allowed a different hot dog vendor to set up shop at each gate and exit ramp. Derek Jeter would starve! To maximize operating efficiency and allay budget concerns, many American airports rely on one provider to deliver superior car and shuttle services.


August in Northwest Florida generally means that there are countless bookings at resorts and that vacation rentals are close to—if not totally—full. An interesting dynamic has taken shape over the last few years: Families with toddlers and preschool-aged children are choosing to vacation in the area after school starts because of availability issues during June, July, and early August. These guests relish the opportunity to experience the Emerald Coast’s pristine beaches and azure Gulf waters when the “big kids” are absent. Because of this extended summer vacation season, the ECP airport maintains a high level of passenger travel through Labor Day, meaning dancing dollar signs for the entire Emerald Coast.

An airport affects its surroundings the way a big drop of water falls into a full bucket—expanding out in concentric circles until reaching its outermost perimeter—splashing down in the center of a region, then creating an economic ripple effect throughout its territory. Through June of 2013, Delta and Southwest airlines delivered around 211,000 travelers to ECP. Imagine how Highway 98 would look if just half of those visitors used airport shuttle transportation instead of private vehicles.


John Finch, owner and founder of Sunshine Shuttle, views this partnership with ECP as a small brushstroke on the canvas of a much larger picture: public transportation throughout Bay, Walton, and Okaloosa Counties. “We have the opportunity—with this kiosk at ECP, our on-site transportation at Sandestin, and our recent employee shuttle service for Seaside this summer—to really change the culture here."

Creating an area where families can visit without the hassles of driving and parking would be a huge positive for us over other vacation destinations.


VIE Magazine Transporation at its finest Alan Roberts Sheila Goode Rolls Royce
VIE Magazine Transporation at its finest Alan Roberts Sheila Goode Rolls Royce

Finch adds, “We have commitments from almost every major business, resort, and community along Scenic Highway 30-A for a tram service, at least for the summer months. More golf carts equal more vehicles, even if they are slow moving. That equals more parking problems as well. Golf carts are not the answer. Business leaders ought to follow Sandestin’s example—take the bull by the horns and get the Rosemary Beach to Gulf Place shuttle rolling. Waiting for government financing that may never come isn’t going to ease anybody’s pain. We’ve got to make it easier for people to continue visiting and growing our economy, or we’ll have a situation like Yogi Berra once described (referring to a St. Louis restaurant, Ruggeri’s), ‘Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.’”

VIE Magazine Transporation at its finest Alan Roberts Sheila Goode Rolls Royce

A car-free vacation destination should be made available to Emerald Coast visitors, and perhaps this is possible in the not-so-distant future. Less traffic means more visitors, and by creating jobs, bringing attention to this issue, and moving ahead without waiting for government funding, Sunshine Shuttle and Limousine is in line to make it happen.

— V — 



Read Responsibly

VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
Summertime!
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail

X

A LIFESTYLE