SPEAKING OUT: TDC must re-establish beach brand, go after desirable demographics

Published: Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 09:11 AM.

There has been much talk about the Walton County Tourist Development Council in recent weeks.

In a surprise move on Jan. 8, TDC Director Dawn Moliterno tendered her resignation with a 90-day notice. Since then, the role of the TDC has been under the microscope from the Board of County Commissioners and the general public. The general consensus is that the TDC’s scope has grown beyond its original intent and that its role needs to be narrowed and explicitly defined.

I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment.

The TDC remains an important organization in Walton County. The vitality of our economy — yes, even that of the rural north part of the county — depends heavily on tourism. But managing that tourism demands a group of talented individuals dedicated exclusively to the task. The TDC fits that role when it operates efficiently and focused.

I spoke with a tourism professional last week about the Walton County TDC. This individual lives in Florida, is involved in the tourism industry and has held multiple, highly-visible tourism executive positions around the state – including in the Panhandle.

“There was a time not too long ago when South Walton was known as a luxury tourist destination,” the professional, who wished to remain anonymous, told me. “That’s not the case anymore. It is being marketed broadly instead of to a specific, upscale clientele. That’s why you’re seeing what you’re seeing.”

What we’re seeing is a less-sophisticated visitor, particularly during spring break. That was never clearer than this year when some beaches in South Walton looked more like Panama City than South Walton with kids elbow-to-elbow, music blaring — and heaven knows what was going on inside the throng. When the beach cleared it was littered with tons of trash.

1 2 3

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top

Local Faves