Summer Tourism in Okaloosa Co.

Updated: Friday, May 23 2014, 10:16 PM CDT
Summer Tourism in Okaloosa Co. story image
Memorial Day Weekend marks the start of the tourist season, and for places like The Track here in Destin, a lot of work goes into getting ready for all those people."

Sure, the Emerald Coast is known for its beaches. But that's not all there is to do. Museums dot the area, and tributes to the military culture are abundant. Attractions like the Gulfarium display the wildlife of the Panhandle, and thrill-seekers can go kiteboarding or surfing. And with so much to do, it's no wonder the area is seeing growing economic results.

Bob Cordier said "I know there's five million people that come through Destin, and we want every one of them to come through here."

While the 2013 numbers aren't entirely available yet, the 2012 numbers according to the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council say good things. Over 13 million dollars in tourist development taxes were collected, up from just over eight million in 2011. Okaloosa County received around five percent of Florida's total tourists, with only the Miami and Orlando areas receiving more.
   
According to Annette Alvarez, "We're proud to say that we have over eleven million visitors a year here at Destin Commons, so it's definitely very important to the economy."

Those coming are spending more money, too.
In 2012, tourists spent over 126 dollars per person, per day, up from less than 100 dollars in 2009.
In ft. Walton beach alone, 2012 saw over 908 million taxable dollars from tourism, up from just over 717 million after the oil spill.

Those dollars are being spent not just at hotels, but at the attractions of the emerald coast.
Daniel carenter from the track says he's seen the increase in dollars spent per day.

Those coming are spending more money, too. In 2012, tourists spent over 126 dollars per person, per day, up from less than 100 dollars in 2009. In Ft. Walton Beach alone, 2012 saw over 908 million taxable dollars from tourism, up from just over 717 million after the oil spill.

Those dollars are being spent not just at hotels, but at the attractions of the Emerald Coast. Daniel Carpenter of the track says he's seen the increase in dollars spent per day.

"Thousands. Especially during the week, we have the specials in the morning, and a lot of the people at the afternoon and at night. It's non-stop, pretty much," Carptenter says.
   
Now despite all the wonderful tourist attractions, people say there's still one main reason they come to the Panhandle. Summer Tourism in Okaloosa Co.
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