SPEAKING OUT: Solutions to tourists’ impact — past, present, and future

Dodson

Daryl Dodson

Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 16:02 PM.

The question: What to do in Walton County about tourist growth?

Here are the facts: The number of overnight tourists in South Walton in 2002 was 1,017,978. The number of overnight tourists in South Walton in 2008 was 2,898,578, which was a 185 percent increase. Based on these growth numbers, all of Walton County and particularly South Walton could experience increased gridlock on our roads during the ensuing years.

The only recent significant reduction in the number of overnight tourists in South Walton was due to the BP oil spill in 2010 when the tourist count was 1,515,528. For 2011, there was still a lingering negative effect caused by the oil spill.

The statistics source? “Visitors by Season” and “Overnight Tourist Estimate Trend” published by Walton County TDC.

So far in 2012, we have all experienced, and probably gladly, a dramatic increase in the number of overnight tourists and the not-so-“glad” related traffic issues.

From these statistics, who could deny the probability that within the next decade the average yearly count of overnight tourists could reach and exceed 3,500,000, which is only a 20.7 percent increase over the 2008 statistic?

That frightening tourist growth count could be the ruin of South Walton because of the potential traffic on the roads, especially for Scenic Highway 30A with its two lane road and its bike path, both of which carry on them potential disaster, gridlock, and allow no place to park.



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