SOUTH WALTON Fla. — Walton County tourism is at an all-time high right now compared to last year.
Ever since Memorial Day, beaches have been open to both residents and tourists. Prior to reopening, Walton County experienced an economic decline.
More recently, there has been a massive increase in money from the Tourist Development Tax compared to last year.
“Not only is our percentage numbers up, but revenue from the TDT tax is up,” said Danny Glidewell Walton County Commissioner for District 2.
Words that Commissioner Glidewell did not imagine saying about tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic in Walton County.
“The two months that we were shut down was hard on our business community,” said Glidewell. “So it was nice that we rebounded.”
David Demarest with Visit South Walton says numbers right now are higher than last year.
“You know, it is great that we are going to be up a few percent, hopefully, but that really isn’t going to make up for what we lost during that time,” said Demarest.
Even though Walton County cannot fully make up for lost revenue, Demarest said this fourth of July will certainly help.
“There will be thousands and thousands of people here. While it is always busy in the summertime,” Demarest said. “There are certainly weekends that are busier than others, and fourth of July is definitely one of those.”
As for some of those tourists that are in South Walton.
“A little concerned the other day when there were so many people,” said Ron and Cheryl Erickson, tourists from Georgia.
“There really has not been much of a difference with corona but, I mean right now. But everything is kind of toned down,” said Sonny Blackwell and Dean Bechman, tourists from Texas.
“We would like them to take good memories, not COVID,” said Glidewell.
Commissioner Glidewell said although tourists add to the population, he does not anticipate beach closures within Walton County.
Officials will continue to keep an eye on hospital numbers.
Glidewell and Demarest said all should continue to respect CDC guidelines both on and off the beach.