Following in the footsteps of Bay County, Walton County is looking to increase their bed tax from 4 cents to 4.5 cents. The anticipated increase in revenue is expected to be around $1 million.
If approved, the TDC plans to use the funds to step up their marketing efforts for the Emerald Coast and attract a low-cost carrier to the new airport slated to open in Panama City of Highway 388 in May 2010. The ultimate goal is to help attract more businesses to the Walton County area. Walton County is right next to Bay County and stand to benefit greatly from the development of the new airport.
Other ideas for the use of the increased revenue include a new complex that could include sports fields, an amphitheater and performing-arts venue.
As with in Bay County, Walton County has its own set of opponents claiming that there is no real plan of action for how to spend the funds, and that the ideas seem to “flip-flop”.
The vote will be in front of Walton County Commissioners tomorrow night at their regularly scheduled meeting.
Southwest Airlines was mentioned several times at Wednesday’s TDC meeting during a presentation about the results of a marketing study.
The presentation, given to show the possible new markets that the new airline would serve, focused on the cities Southwest already flies out of. The top five markets are Nashville, Houston, Orlando, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Mares said that with the right marketing, the local tourism industry could reach more than 3 million households that fit the demographic profile of visitors to South Walton.
The study determined the top markets by categorizing visitors by age, income and net worth. Also included was information such as their preferred lodging and dining preferences, magazines they read and the television and radio programs they listen to.