The waters are mighty buoyant right now for the Gulf County Tourist Development Council.
The TDC places a marketing focus on the county’s bounty of liquid delights, and the strategy is clearly working as the TDC realized still another stellar month in bed tax revenue in May, climbing a whopping 39 percent compared to the same month in 2017.
“I am really happy to report that number,” said TDC executive director Kelli Godwin. “We had our spring campaign and that went well and we are seeing new visitors, from places like Chattanooga and Kentucky.
“We are pacing good and healthy.”
With four months remaining in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the TDC has seen bed tax revenue increase, year over year, in seven of the past eight months.
In four of those months the increase was by double digits, percentage-wise.
The lone month of decline, April, was really a result of the calendar and how Easter and spring breaks fell; Easter was the first day of the month.
For the year, bed taxes are running 14.2 percent ahead of last year.
The TDC is on pace to easily exceed $2 million in revenue for the fiscal year; it was just five years ago that bed tax revenue first eclipsed $1 million.
And July is just cranking up with plenty to do just this week, from a festival to fireworks to farmers market.
“There is just a lot going on,” Godwin said. “We are just full-force into summer and really focused in-market.”
The new “Turtle Trail” sponsored by the TDC is taking shape.
Part of the education and outreach regarding the area’s sea turtles, the TDC has produced its first hatching of what Godwin hopes will become an annual celebration.
Artist Alex Henderson, who is fabricating a Sea Turtle monument for the Florida Coastal Conservancy, created six smaller versions of the turtle that will dominate the fountain.
Artists, who submitted a rendering of how they would decorate a turtle, with an image, logo or other Gulf County-centric rendering, were selected and have begun their work.
They were given two weeks to complete the decoration and the turtles will then be installed.
Each turtle will be sponsored by a local business.
Mounted with each turtle will be information on its origin, the artist and the sponsoring business.
One turtle is destined for Dead Lakes Park, two will be placed in Port St. Joe, two along Cape San Blas and St. Joseph Peninsula and one in St. Joe Beach.
“We are designed by nature and people love turtles,” Godwin said. “This will bring sea turtle awareness to visitors while allowing them to get a photo-op with some pretty spiffy turtles around the county.”
The Sea Turtle Fountain in Port St. Joe counts among the first six hatchings, Godwin said.
The fountain is going up along Marina Drive.
Godwin said the TDC hopes to “hatch” another group of turtles in ensuing years.
Godwin said a ribbon cutting ceremony will be held next month to officially welcome the “Turtle Trail” and the TDC will establish a website page dedicated to the trail.
US Navy Band concert
The TDC will sponsor a concert by the “US Navy Country Current Band” over Labor Day weekend.
The band, one of several traveling U.S. Navy bands, will play 6 p.m. ET Monday, Sept. 3 at Veterans Memorial Park at Beacon Hill.
Doors open at 5 p.m.
The concert is free.
Tickets may be picked up at the Gulf County Welcome Center or Duren’s Piggly Wiggly.
“That will really be a cool concert,” Godwin said.
Concessions will be offered by the committee working to bring an Honor Walk to Veterans Memorial Park.
Bring your blankets and chairs.