By LEAH STRATMANN
At the quarterly meeting of the South Walton Tourist Development Council (TDC) director Dawn Moliterno reported revenue in April was up 18 percent and summer reservations are strong.
“We are starting to get complaints about people having trouble finding availability for July 4 and we haven’t had that kind of complaint in a long time,” Moliterno said.
Jennifer Jenkins of LKM presented mock-ups of the print ads to come, which incorporate the new brand and the palette of proposed colors.
Council member Suzanne Harris took issue with the ad samples presented because she thought the photos had too much brown in them, rather than emphasizing the blue green water and the white sand.
“I agree. None do justice to the beach,” commented Richard Veldman, another council member.
“The brand promise is we create beautiful memories. We are working on bringing the water out. This is the hardest part of it all.” Jenkins explained. She also said the new website will be live on Sept. 1.
Brad Pickel reported the state allocated funding for beach renourishment, just over $16 million, but these dollars must be linked to two other money sources. That was good news,” Pickel said.
Pickel also reported his group is doing the three part pre-hurricane assessment of the beaches including an aerial video, walking the beaches and monitoring the western Walton County beaches. “The beach in western Walton County must be measured as it has already been restored, so that if a storm hits, money will be forthcoming to restore it. We still have four years remaining on paying the debt for the restoration.” He said.
Michael Willis of Marlowe and Company, the lobbyists working for the TDC in Washington, D.C. said, “We are not sure what is going on with the funding in D.C. It is very encouraging for coastal communities to have a bill fail calling for cancellation of all coastal restoration projects. Congress seemed to see the economic aspect of the beaches, which was good for us.”
Moliterno reported that as the number of visitors increases the volume of trash increases. “The county has suggested the TDC add two full-time employees, one dedicated to code enforcement on the beach and the other to do maintenance. We have not added to our beach crew for years, so when the county suggested this we thought it was a good idea,” she said.
A full-time code enforcement person will also help. As it stands there is only a part-time code enforcement person and due to the nature of the temporary employment, it is often a new person each year. Moliterno said making the position full time would increase continuity and not require training each and every year.
Harris said her staff picks up all the trash at Edgewater. “I think if we could explain to other condo projects that do a lot of rentals that it is not up to the county to do all of the trash pickup. It would reduce the amount of trash the county has to pick up. We could try and start educating that it is not always somebody else’s job to clean up messes. We have to get the vendors to contribute to this too,” she said. She and the director will meet to discuss a proposal to other condo projects about this issue.
The next quarterly meeting will be held on Sept. 13 at 9 a.m.