Visit South Walton promotes brand recognition, group sales [PREMIUM]

By TRISH DAY On Feb. 2, the Tourist Development Council (TDC) held its regularly scheduled meeting at the South Walton Annex Boardroom. All members were present. Jason Cutshaw, Director of Administration, delivered an in-depth financial report covering the final months of 2021. October revenue was $3.4 million, which was 25% higher than last year. November revenue was just under $1.7 million. December revenue has not been posted but is up from the previous year. Bed tax collection, year to date, is $5,035,631. The next agenda item was the nomination and election of the TDC Board members. They are: Seat 1: County Commissioner Mike Barker Seat 2: Eddie Farris, Secretary Seat 3: Todd Bierbaum, Treasurer Seat 4: Jennifer Frost, Chair Seat 5: Scott Russell, Vice Chair Seat 6: Andrew Czarnecki Seat 7: Jim Shirley Seat 8: Micah Davis Seat 9: Tim Taylor A request was presented for recommendation to use TDT (Tourist Development Tax) funds to expand the Beach Basket Program with a cost not to exceed $10,000. This pilot program was created by local high school student, Hannah Smith. Hannah was concerned about litter on the beach and in the water. She came up with a plan to place baskets near the Grayton Beach Access for beachgoers to use to collect trash while visiting the beach and then emptying them into the larger collection bins as they exit the beach. The pilot program has been a huge success, and the TDC would like to expand it to all regional beach accesses. Approval was requested to initiate an Art Mural Project with an initial cost of $50,000. The Art Murals, under the direction of the Cultural Arts Alliance, would enhance the beauty of public buildings and beach access areas while also highlighting the culture of Walton County and its surrounding natural resources. There was a request to recommend to the BCC to hold a public hearing to consider amending the tourist development tax and the plan for tourist development for the 12 months beginning March 1, 2022. The area to be included would be all of Walton County lying south of the Intracoastal Waterway. The anticipated tax revenue for the 12 month period following levy of the tax at 5% is approximately $50 million. All TDC action items must be approved by the Board of County Commissioners. The next TDC Meeting is scheduled for April 5 at 9 a.m. at the South Walton Annex.


During the February meeting of the Tourist Development Council, the Marketing Team gave a detailed presentation of their extensive and successful efforts to attract individuals and groups to the  beaches of south Walton.

The team’s cutting edge social media campaigns are designed to highlight the area’s meeting facilities and “out of the box” unique outdoor event spaces. The “open air” meeting theme appeals to event planners mindful of Covid protocols.

The website www.VisitSouthWalton highlights the ease of travel and proximity to Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP); the charm of South Walton’s unique architecture; fresh and creative dining options; championship golf courses and picturesque outdoor venues – as well as 26 miles of snowy white sand and breathtaking emerald waters.

An entire section of the website is devoted to planning the perfect SoWal wedding, where brides-to-be can choose their venue, reserve spaces and arrange private dining events all with a few clicks.

The team has partnered with a premier virtual tour program called Threshold 360, where potential visitors can see virtual tours of all 16 neighborhoods, State Parks, beaches and 99 other areas of interest within the county. Last year’s Artist of the Year, Chandler Williams, was chosen as the photographer for this project.

Visit South Walton’s extensive social media campaign includes Google, Facebook and Instagram. They also have their own Tik-Tok channel. While Tik-Tok has a target audience of mostly teens, it has been proven that teenagers have a lot of influence over where their families choose to go on vacation.

Visit South Walton has partnered with BookDirect to provide accommodation partners with the ability to display real-time rates and availability on To add or update a rental property listing, email

Year-to-date, the BookDirect portion of the website has received more than 35,000 visits. With Google ads, VRBO ads, and promotion on social media, more potential visitors are being funneled to book directly with our accommodations partners. Yearly visits to the BookDirect page on have increased by 231 percent. 

Visit South Walton is now accepting applications for the 2023 Event Marketing Grant program. Events must be located in Walton County and held between Oct. 1 and Sept. 30. The application deadline is March 4, 2022. Late applications will not be accepted.

Aside from bringing global awareness to the South Walton Brand, the team has also helped in spotlighting our destination. South Walton’s beaches have received awards and recognition from Coastal Living, National Geographic, Architectural Digest and Forbes. South Walton was also featured on The Today Show as one of the best places to spend Thanksgiving.

Some social media stats include:


• Total Followers: 323.5K

• Total Monthly Reach: 12.1M

• Top Performing Post: Appreciation post for soft sunsets

• Impressions: 24,467


• Total Followers: 17.1K

• Total Monthly Impressions: 244K

• Profile Visits: 3,591

• Content Shares/Mentions: 120


• Followers: 50.9K

• Total Monthly Organic Impressions: 1,766,741

• Total Monthly Engagement: 9,420

• Total Monthly Organic Reach: 718,803

• Top Performing Post: “Santa’s Vacay” 

• Reach: 127,583

The Visit South Walton website had 160k visitors in the last two months and received 1.8 million social media impressions.