PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Thousands of people are in Panama City Beach this weekend for the Ironman Triathlon

Panama City Beach officials said around 5,000 people are staying in hotels on the beach and eating at local restaurants.

“That helps our lodging partners, our local businesses because they’re all going out to dinner with their families, or they’re taking a pontoon boat to Shell Island,” Visit PCB Public Relations Manager Lacee Rudd said. “Or they’re renting bikes to go through the conservation park.”

Rudd said the race generates $5 million to the local economy.

“It’s great for the destination because they bring their entire families when they stay in Panama City Beach,” Rudd said. “So that just brings additional bed tax dollars into Bay County and the destination.”

Rudd said many people return to Panama City Beach to vacation after the triathlon. Race Announcer Dave Ragsdale said many participants have never been to Bay County before.

 “I do meetings everyday for athletes,” Ragsdale said. “And one of the things that I ask them out the outside is ‘who’s here in Panama City Beach for the first time?’ And the number of hands I would say is 40% of the people.”