By DOTTY NIST
“Again, we continue to see strong numbers,” South Walton Tourist Development Council (TDC) Executive Director Dawn Moliterno told council members at the council’s Dec. 13 regular quarterly meeting
October 2011 bed tax collection figures had been reported and were found to be up by 42 percent over those of October 2010.
A potential visitor study conducted for the TDC by research firm Kerr & Downs, which targeted households earning $75,000 per year or more, revealed that of those who do not visit south Walton, 27 percent had not heard of the area. Also, it was reported that half of potential visitors do not know where south Walton is located. In addition, the study also found that 58 percent of those those surveyed were looking to try a new beach destination.
A visitor tracking survey of actual visitors to south Walton,conducted via Internet and phone by the research firm, revealed that: five is the typical party size for tourists; parties spent an average of $3,500 to $4,000; 90 percent of visitors drove rather than flew; the average stay was six nights; that visitors’ most important attributes for a destination were that it made them feel comfortable and able to unwind; and that 92 percent planned to return to south Walton.
In other discussion, Moliterno told the board members that Gulf Place had requested being included as one of the beach communities listed as being part of Visit South Walton. She added that criteria had never been approved for designating those communities. Moliterno offered to look into that matter and come back to the council at a future meeting with information.
TDC council member Suzanne Harris brought up the frequency of TDC meetings. She was of the opinion that it would be beneficial for council members to meet more often than quarterly, although not as often as once a month. Council member Stephen Hilliard agreed, saying that this would help the panel “flesh things out” better. Harris proposed a motion to meet every other month rather than quarterly. The motion was approved unanimously.