Tourist Development

Be a Part of the Heart of the Emerald Coast

Many residents today began as a tourist. Tourists impact the local economy in may ways, by creating jobs, contributing to sales taxes for the state and county, funding public safety on the beach, and funding environmental improvements such as beach protection, restoration and preservation. Local residents play an important part in making tourists feel welcome, providing directions or just recommendations on restaurants or other amenities.  

The Tourist Development Department consists of an overall director and a convention center manager among qualified, experienced staff, who perform the mission of the Tourist Development Council, referred to as the “TDC” and known as the Convention & Visitors Bureau, or “CVB”, outside the local area. The Tourist Development Department is required to promote the area and meet the following objectives below:

  • Promote tourism sales and increase overall visitation through marketing and advertising of our beautiful Emerald Coast to the outside world, generating a maximum return on investment for the local economy.
  • Operation of the Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, Emerald Coast Convention Center and Emerald Coast Film Commission, to include the Visitors Welcome Center
  • Beach safety and funding of the Beach Safety Life Saving Program (funding of beach lifeguards)
  • Funding of local, special events
  • Research and Evaluation of success of all programs and local economy
  • Protection and improvements to the natural environment through funding of the artificial reef program, public beach access parks, beach cleaning, beach restoration improvements, a certified mandated State of Florida beach turtle watch program, as well as the Environment Council Programs: water testing throughout Choctawatchee Bay, biannual beach clean ups and Adopt-a-county road and dune programs:
  • The Tourist Development Council serves as an advisory to the Board of County Commissioners
  • Ensure compliance with state statutes and local ordinances as required

The TDC is solely-funded by the lodging tax paid by visitors staying overnight in the cities of Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island, Mary Esther and Cinco Bayou. Florida Statute 125.104 permits the Board of County Commissioners of Okaloosa County to levy Tourist Development Tax (TDT), and County Ordinances 89-23, 92-08, 99-08, 01-33, 05-102 and 07-58 created the Tourist Development Council, established the initial tax rate collection, and identified the special taxing districts with Okaloosa.

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