Panelists talk about the future of tourism in Walton County

Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 03:18 PM.

The increase in full-time residents is showing up in increased voter registrations in the south end of the county, with 48 percent of registered voters in the county living south of the bay.

"We're living in one of the fastest-growing areas of Florida and that will continue," said Bagby. "WaterSound and Origins has more density units than Sandestin giving us two behemoths in the same county. The full-time residents are coming."

However, the race is on to see which beach community wins those full-time residents, and Bagby says the winner will be the one who gets a four-lane built to Alabama first, and said we have a great opportunity in the widening of 331.

When that is accomplished, we will get not only more full-time residents, but also more industry.

But as more full-time residents come, there will be less units available for rent to tourists.

" Fort Walton used to be the place to go, then it was Destin, and now the place to be is Walton County ," said Bagby. "We are the 10th largest in Florida in bed tax collection. Walton County is a huge player, and 50 years from now, we will continue to evolve. The new bridge will say 'Come on down!' Our job at the TDC is to help manage and maintain."


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