Do we need a TDC?

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Dawn, May 9, 2012.

  1. Annie66

    Annie66 Beach Lover

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    I think the TDC should be dissolved. I talk to people all the time who come here on vacation and most of them don't know what county they are in and couldn't care less. 'The Beaches of South Walton' is an ego trip for the political insiders. The area sells itself. The TDC had nothing to do with the increase in business. When we first started coming here we liked south Walton county because the greedy developers had not yet ruined the coast with condos as far as the eye could see. But then the developers took over.
     
  2. tsutcli

    tsutcli Beach Fanatic

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    I concur!! The TDC has outlived its usefulness and IMO is doing more to ruin the area than almost any other group. I was in a group of 7 locals playing at Camp Creek yesterday when this subject came up and it was unanimous that the TDC should be disbanded or that their mission should be drastically narrowed to exclude further marketing of SOWAL. The funds could be better used for enhanced beach,road and code enforcement, maintenance of public accesses, fire protection to name a few. How does one go about initiating the process?

    On a different but somewhat related subject, has there been any credible survey done lately on traffic density on 30a (not a developers survey - totally disreputable)? I can't believe that this tiny, 2 lane country road wouldn't be found to be way beyond its legal capacity. Anyone who has to use this road, especially during tourist season, couldn't come to any other conclusion.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  3. lenzoe

    lenzoe Beach Fanatic

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    This is interesting.
     
  4. BeachSiO2

    BeachSiO2 Beach Fanatic

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    Ggirl,

    I'll pass that info along. That's not the way it was explained to me.
     
  5. BeachSiO2

    BeachSiO2 Beach Fanatic

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    There is a public workshop on June 12 at 4:30 and I hope you can attend. In the meantime, here's a fairly recent presentation on the topic.http://www.visitsouthwalton.org/contents/download/8640
     
  6. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    i talk to a lot of visitors, both people I know or complete strangers (I am a little chatty:roll:). Anyway, they always tell me the following reasons they chose this area:

    1. Made vacation plans with family members who vacation here
    2. Made vacation plans with friends who vacation here
    3. Grew up in the southern states and have ben visiting the panhandle since they were small, sometimes generations visiting the area.
    4. In the case of spring break, don't want to be the only family left behind in a zip code/school group when they all come here- oh the horrors! the kids would be ostracized.
    5. Booked a stay in Destin or PCB, went for a sightseeing drive, and found 30A.
    6. Southern Living reader. If Southern Living says to go somewhere, well then you better go there. Garden & Gun rapidly gaining on them with the young, hip, and wealthy group.

    Most really all go back to word of mouth. Every single friend of ours that vacations here now, does so because we "introduced" them to the area years ago, and now they bring other people, and so on and so on. Making sure the visitors experiences WHILE THEY ARE HERE is the most important function of the TDC- because our visitors ARE the marketing tool.

    I would really like to see figures of how many people were burning up the flight paths coming here from places like Chicago, DC, etc. Would that marketing money have been better spent on more events to get larger numbers our large regional markets? Why do we have to worry about getting visitors from big cities outside of the south?
     
  7. ricky bobby

    ricky bobby Banned

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    I see that the Daily News is doing a survey. So far the responders favor getting rid of the Okaloosa TDC. If there were no TDC, bed tax money could be put aside for the next hurricane. But a lot of people want to waste it now while it's hot.
     
  8. Lake View Too

    Lake View Too SoWal Insider

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    "Waste it now while it's hot." That is the perfect motto for our current TDC. GraytonGirl had a great concept. Using TDC money (which, apparently, is "overflowing") to purchase and preserve endangered beachfront property. Eastern Lake Inlet comes to mind. There have been overtures from the owners of this property, affecting the inlet, to sell it to the county. This has been going on for years. The county doesn't seem to have the money, but The TDC apparently does. Four million dollars to preserve the enjoyment of one of our greatest natural treasures for our grandchildren and their grandchildren, seems a little more important than whether the TDC can erect a "discovery center" for people who have already found the beaches of South Walton.
     
  9. Grayton Girl

    Grayton Girl Beach Fanatic

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    Beach SiO2:

    I get the impression that you might be on the TDC board or perhaps a TDC employee. If that is so, I am disappointed that you have not received appropriate counsel about how TDC funds can be spent.

    While I do not purport to be an expert, the information I provided was gleaned from a 2-hour research session on the internet. I am tired of hearing that "the TDC is prohibited by statute from doing X or Y" or that it would be "illegal" to use TDC funds in one way or another.

    I looked up the statute, and I read it, then I looked up Attorney General Opinions, which are legal opinions given to elected or appointed officials. I read a number of AG Opinions that had to do with TDC expenditures all over the state. What I am reading convinces me that TDC funds can be spent on land, capital improvements, etc. as long as the county commission, which is the governing body of the county, makes a factual finding based on evidence and the peculiar conditions and needs of the area, that the spending of the funds will promote tourism.

    I agree with JDarg that the TDC would be well-served by making sure that once visitors have arrived, they have a wonderful and safe time at the beach. Acquiring additional beach accesses, improving the bike path for safety, providing additional security for our busiest times - all of these would serve to enhance the visitor experience for those who come to our area. We want them to leave happy, so they will tell their friends and loved ones about their wonderful experiences in Sowal. The fact that these same desires (for instance, beach access, bike path safety, additional security) would also serve to improve the lives of those of us who live here, does not make these goals or projects somehow "unavailable" for TDC funds.
     
  10. lenzoe

    lenzoe Beach Fanatic

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    I hadn't heard that rumor. If true, now would be a good time for the county to buy while prices are at the low point.

    Whether it's the Eastern Lake inlet or some other sites, I've always wondered why the County didn't seem to be active in trying to increase access points. Improving existing accesses and adding parking to existing accesses is good, but that's not the same as actually increasing access land.

    Public companies have buyback programs that they use to increase the value of their own stock. This would be a similar concept -- buying land to increase the public value of the beach. Boulder Colorado had a pretty extensive greenspace development program where the county actively rezoned and actively purchased new greenspace for public use. When I left there 20 years ago it had one of the greatest public park systems in the country and a really great quality of life factor. Hi tech companies as well as tourists were flocking to Boulder because of that quality of life factor.
     
  11. Amp22

    Amp22 Beach Fanatic

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    By all means let's constantly evaluate and adapt, but I have to say whenever I hear people say we don't need to advertise I think they are either ignorant, or want fewer visitors.

    Sure the internet is a great resource and this site alone is probably responsible for 1/2 the tourists but competition is fierce out there. Destinations have gotten smart and if you don't keep up you'll lose out to a thousand other beach destinations. The SWTDC marketing is light years ahead of where it was even a couple of years ago. The current staff (Dawn Moliterno has done an amazing job) and LKM agency has brought us out of the stone age. Their website, while not great is a ton better than it was (useless).

    Having said that, there are ways to do it a lot cheaper. Getting travel articles written is practically free and brings in tons of folks and reinforces and reminds people who already have been here. Don't underestimate the fact that kids are now bringing their kids here - but you still have to stay on em and woo em. But look at all the events we have here now!!! Too many to keep up with!

    Youtube!!??!! Helllooooo??! This video has over 22,000 views - it ain't rocket science people - send your bed tax money to SoWal website---

    [video=youtube_share;H1cvfQ7KehM]http://youtu.be/H1cvfQ7KehM[/video]
     
  12. James Bentwood

    James Bentwood Beach Fanatic

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    I do believe having a TDC and a visitor's center is important. The BP money and the commissioner currently heading the advisory council have them in the public (critical) eye more. I see that they are making an effort to be more transparent and businesslike. ALthough the visitor center location idea was talked about last year and not hidden like some people try to claim, any smart developer will tell you to go to the neighbors first and include them in the process. In this case the neighbors is all of South Walton. First thing you do is bring forestry, SWCC, and other interested parties to the table and ask them for guidance. This is PR 101.
     
  13. James Bentwood

    James Bentwood Beach Fanatic

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    I think you have some valid points, but not going far enough. Your point 5. - South Walton is a lot more than 30A. Most of the people who stay in Sandestin or Miramar Beach think they are in Destin. It is important for them to know they are in South Walton! Why? So they don't go back and tell those friends and family members what a great time they had in DESTIN! A visitor's center is a lot more than just trying to get people to visit. It is meeting space, offices, education and info center...

    If somebody simply stops to use the bathroom and sees a rip tide chart on the bathroom wall and later survives a rip tide because of it that is huge!

    But also they might learn of something like YOLO or Eden Gardens or Biophilia Center that makes them tell a friend, or book a wedding, or book a return trip and on and on. New customers cost ten times more to recruit than retention of an existing one. And I definitely think we could snag new visitors traveling between panama city and destin...

    Maybe have a small visitor's center somewhere on 98 and a main one on 331.
     
  14. shellak

    shellak Beach Fanatic

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    The issue with the current TDC space being maxed out becomes irrelevant when you believe the TDC should be smaller. Why it was constructed over a retention pond, I will never know. But the building can't be that bad if the TDC was going to give it to the Division of Forestry. I would support a very small TDC. When we moved from Columbus, Ohio to Louisville, Kentucky, we had never heard of the Destin/South Walton area. However, we quickly found out that almost the entire east end of Louisville headed there every spring break. Just about everyone I've spoken to regarding how they first came here to visit has told me they heard about our area from a friend, etc. I agree with JDarg about the beach access limitations. Just think if every condo and house that was constructed during the "flip" craziness was filled to capacity - can you imagine what 30a traffic would look like?
     
  15. James Bentwood

    James Bentwood Beach Fanatic

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    Yeah and there was another 50,000 units on the drawing board. When we start getting big subdivisions in SoWal and Freeport imagine the parking and access problems we'll have. The old building was to be destroyed and the land given to forestry.
     
  16. Annie66

    Annie66 Beach Lover

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    Since we have so many vacant dwellings in Walton county, perhaps the TDC needs to concentrate on bringing in permanent residents.
     
  17. beachmouse

    beachmouse Beach Fanatic

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    Population growth is strong in Walton County- some of the fastest in the Southeast. But a lot of those folks that do buy are aiming for the sub-$250K purchase or alternately renting, not getting the $500K 'entry level' home south of 30-A that seems to be rather overbuilt for the area.
     
  18. Jim Tucker

    Jim Tucker Beach Fanatic

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    That is the perfect MISSON fo a TOURIST org! :sarc:
     
  19. lenzoe

    lenzoe Beach Fanatic

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    I think you make a lot of valid points, and I agree that visitor experience while in South Walton is critical, which is why things like keeping the beaches clean and safe is critical, and why negative experiences like trash on the beach and overcrowding with loud obnoxious visitors of whatever age should be minimized.

    However, if you're ever going to get to develop a more robust year-round economy, I think you need to draw from a wider audience than the South. You can argue about the most effective way to do that and whether what the TDC is doing is effective for that, but I don't think trying to expand the the market outside of the South is a bad idea.
     
  20. 30A Skunkape

    30A Skunkape Mr. Small Box

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    In regard to the original post title, I say "no"! Good lord, it looked like July 4th at Seaside last night with people on top of people. I know heads in beds are good, but there has to be a tipping point where crowds make this place unattractive. I don't see a need to advertise, advertise, advertise...Maybe run advertising campaigns every other year in select media. In off years devote funds to improving beach access, etc. Or just disband the TDC-I'm sure we would all survive just fine.
     

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