DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) –
Every year, thousands of people from across the country come to South Walton County for the beaches. Many of them are driving right through places like DeFuniak Springs.
“I think for a long time North Walton has been sort of overlooked. People come through the area and they go right to the beach,” said Chelsea Blaich, executive director of Main Street DeFuniak Springs.
At the polls this November, North Walton County residents will get to decide if there should be a tourist development tax, similar to the one in South Walton.
“This is something that exists pretty much throughout the United States of America, and especially here in Florida it’s important as a way to help support the tourism economy,” said David Demarest with Visit South Walton.
Local business owners say this tax could help the local economy grow.
“There is a lot to do up here, business wise. I opened this store less than a year ago and there is a lot of new activity coming on and there’s a lot of pass-by tourists that basically drove down to the beach and that’s it, they could stay for a day or overnight just to visit and see what’s going on,” said Renee Savary of Praline & Company Gelato.
Megan Harrison with the Walton County Chamber of Commerce said money collected from this tax would be used for promoting the area as a tourist destination, as well as improving what’s already here.
“We’re going to have the opportunity for the creation of more jobs, we’re going to have an opportunity for improvement in infrastructure that is tourism related but that our citizens can benefit from,” said Harrison.
The measure will be on the ballot for citizens who live north of the Choctawhatchee Bay.
Election day is November 3rd.
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