Bed tax receipts up 8 percent for the year



One quarter down, and if the next three unfold as profitably the Gulf County Tourist Development Council is certainly heading to another record year.

Bed tax receipts for December were up 4.5 percent compared to December 2016, which makes it a three-peat for growth months in fiscal year 2017-2018.

Though not quite at the elevated status of the 27 percent increase in November, the December numbers put the overall growth of the fiscal year at 8 percent over the prior year.

“It’s a very good start,” said TDC executive director Kelli Godwin. “We did do a holiday push, so that helped with Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“And, obviously, we also had Celebrate Twice (New Year’s Eve) which fell on a weekend this year and that was a big attraction.”

This week brings the arrival of the new Visitor’s Guide.

The guide features 80 pages of articles, photos and pertinent information designed to bring this part of Florida to the attention of a wider national audience, said Kristy Grove, the TDC’s marketing director.

Gulf County treasures of waterways, scenery, history, and laid-back friendliness are central to the guide, which through color offers the warm sunshine and cool coastal breezes.

Grove said the guide is more coffee-table magazine than tourist guide and it includes practical information to help visitors plan vacations.

“We are very happy with it,” Godwin said. “I’m so excited to get it out to the people.”

Folks may request a visitor guide online at or stop in the Welcome Center.

The TDC is in the midst of its winter calendar, with a “Welcome Back Fiesta” last month which attracted more than 200 visitors and continues with a full calendar of events.

Godwin noted a recent day during which more than 500 visitors came to the Welcome Center.

“Sometimes it feels like a reunion,” Godwin said.

The spring campaign will soon ramp-up, centered around Instagram and the hashtag #InGulf.

“Show us how you engulf in your vacation, engulf yourself in nature, in family,” Godwin said.

One does not even have to be vacationing in Gulf County, per se, though that can be a bonus, but the goal is demonstrating how one enjoys a vacation and how that translates to a visit to Gulf County.

A winner will be chosen for a seven-day vacation package from a local lodging partner, the vacation including glass-bottom canoe rides and other adventure activities.

In addition, Godwin said, there will be weekly winners of a small cash award.

Godwin also noted that the TDC’s event sponsorship applications were available and due back by March 30.

The TDC is returning to a prior process in which it provided reimbursement dollars for events, the level of sponsorship dependent on parameters such as the size of the event, potential “heads-in-beds” driven by the event.

Application packets can be picked up at the Welcome Center or by calling the TDC at 229-7800.

Other initiatives underway include crafting a branding and logo for the proposed renovated 10th Street Park in Port St. Joe, a conceptual plan for which was approved by city and county boards.

“I am glad we have something to work with and begin to put the pieces together and move ahead,” Godwin said.

Also, the TDC’s successful B2B concierge effort will continue at 11 a.m. ET Feb. 15 at the St. Joseph Bay Golf Club.

The concierge sessions are aimed at front-line staff in tourism-related businesses to teach how to be a concierge, an information center, for the entire county.

“There is always something to learn,” Godwin said.