Last week, Mexico Beach’s Community Development Council (CDC) held its annual lodging partner meeting.


Last week, Mexico Beach’s Community Development Council (CDC) held its annual lodging partner meeting at the Mexico Beach Civic Center.

Local business owners and residents were given a breakdown of the CDC’s efforts and revenues collected through the city’s bed tax.

While the budget still has two more stops before it is approved, CDC president Kimberly Shoaf said that she expects that budget to be pushed through.

The fiscal year 2018 budget allocates just over $800,000 coming to the CDC.

In order to dispel questions on where bed tax money goes, Shoaf broke down the budget line by line.

Over half that income will be directed towards different forms of advertisement, with a budget of $444,700 towards advertisement.

The CDC will also spend nearing $150,000 for beach and canal maintenance, with the large chunk of money, $84,500, going towards the city’s beach nourishment project.

Although the city has won a grant for the majority of the project, the grant requires a match from the city, half of which the CDC is paying.

“We are very aware that there are certain areas of the beach that are critically eroded,” Shoaf said. “We have got to protect these as much as we can.”

The remaining $226,121 is to be used for various expenses categorized as administrative, personnel, professional, travel and welcome center expenses.

When compared to last year’s statistics, Mexico Beach’s bed tax revenue has increased in every month except for April.

According to Charlene Honnen, Bay County’s bed tax specialist, April 2016’s numbers were boosted by collections from previous periods.

Even with the discrepancy, overall bed tax collections in Mexico Beach have increased this year by over 12 percent through June.

That increase goes along with a statewide increase recently announced.

A record number of tourists visited the Sunshine State in the first six months of 2017.

According to data from Visit Florida, 60.7 million visitors came to Florida during that time period an increase of 4.1 percent over the same period last year.

Over 50 million of those visitors came from within the United States.

Data for last year compiled by Visit Florida shows that Georgians visited the state the most with 10.6 percent of visitors coming from the Peach State.

While larger Florida tourism organizations such as Visit Orlando, Visit Tampa Bay and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau have opted out of Visit Florida over spending controversies and an uncertain political future, Shoaf stated that Mexico Beach’s CDC is continuing its relationship with the larger tourism organization.

“As of this time it is still beneficial, for us to promote us guys, to stay with Visit Florida,” Shoaf said.

Shoaf cited cost-sharing marketing campaigns that the CDC would not be able to afford on their own as a primary reason for sticking with Visit Florida before adding that she would be attending a conference at the end of the month to get a better grasp on the situation.

Cornerstone Marketing, in its fifth year in service to the city, was also on hand to give an update on their work.

According to the marketing company’s data, web and social media traffic has increased the last year.

While the CDC has pushed out its marketing campaign to the Carolinas and Texas, a majority of web traffic is still coming from Georgia and neighboring states.

Shoaf added that with expanded advertisement in more distant states, she hopes in an increase of visits during the shoulder seasons.

While an increase in numbers is desired by the CDC, Shoaf also stated that the CDC is aware of the need to increase numbers conservatively.

“Our board is aware and very cautious when we do market our area, to make sure that we are not overdoing it,” Shoaf said.

That cautiousness led the CDC board to develop a four year strategic plan to handle tourism.

According to Shoaf, while the CDC wants to grow Mexico Beach as a year-long destination, the plan outlines how to complete that task without ruining the small town perception of Mexico Beach.