In its 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards, TripAdvisor ranked the Sarasota County beach at the top of its U.S. list.
by: Alex Mahadevan News Innovation Editor
Siesta Key Beach is back on top.
TripAdvisor ranked the Sarasota County shoreline No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 5 in the world in its 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards. Siesta was the only U.S. beach included on the international list.
“To inspire those planning a beach getaway, we’ve surfaced the world’s best beaches from the millions of our traveler reviews,” said TripAdvisor Chief Marketing Officer Barbara Messing in a news release.
The travel site last year ranked Siesta at No. 3, one year after including the beach at the top of its list — to much fanfare from county tourism officials. As in previous rankings, TripAdvisor cited the fine, white sand in its description of the beach.
“I think what it really shows is the enduring love that visitors have for Siesta Beach and how much people really like all the new enhancements,” said Visit Sarasota County President Virginia Haley, referring to the $21.5 million beach improvement project the county opened last year.
Over the last seven years, the beach has racked up numerous rankings, including the coveted No. 1 spot on Stephen “Dr. Beach” Leatherman’s annual list in 2011. Leatherman last year ranked Siesta at No. 2 on the list.
“With some of the finest, whitest sand in the world, this beach attracts sand collectors from all over. Siesta Beach has clear, warm waters ideal for swimming. The beach is hundreds of yards wide in the shape of a crescent, due to anchoring of onshore rocks to the south. This beach is great for volleyball and other types of recreational fitness,” he wrote at the time.
Seven Florida beaches made the U.S. list.
Although the TripAdvisor rankings are based solely off of travel reviews, meaning it’s more about the quality of individual experiences than promotion of the area, Haley said the award does vindicate tourism marketing in a month when the Florida House of Representatives is considering a bill that would cut funding from Visit Florida.
The state’s tourism marketing agency partnered with Google to map Florida’s shorelines in 2014, which Haley said gave more visibility to local beaches. Also, the county’s tourism agency used the last TripAdvisor No. 1 ranking in its marketing materials.
“We blew it out of the water with promotion and we’ll be doing that again,” she said. “Because people can’t rank Siesta No. 1 until they visit.”