Not much slowing the Gulf County Tourist Development Council even with summer coming to a close with the approach of Labor Day.
With the new normal in bed tax collection after Hurricane Michael apparently established, the TDC has a full slate of events to bolster the coming “shoulder” season of fall and winter.
Before the future, however, a few numbers from the past.
Bed tax collection in July, the results of which were somewhat delayed as online collection by the Tax Collector’s Office began, continued a summer status quo that likely reflects the inventory lost during Michael, said TDC executive director Kelli Godwin.
July collections were off 26 percent compared to July 2018, or roughly $129,000.
The percentage is in keeping with the past five months which have seen bed tax collections decline, compared to the same month the previous year, by anywhere from 23 percent to 34 percent.
More encouragingly, revenue is approaching $1.5 million for the year with two months of collection left to be reported.
And one of those months was an August kept quite busy by a bountiful scallop season.
Given the current pace, bed tax collections could still top receipts from four of the past six years.
The TDC topped $2 million just two years ago.
“We are hanging right at 24 percent down for the year,” Godwin said. “We may end the year better than we thought.
“It was a great scallop season. It was just beautiful out there on the Bay. We went out the final week and there were still plenty of scallops out there. We finally get to claim a full, healthy scallop season.”
The positive results on the tourism side meant a tad more flexibility budgeting for the coming fiscal year which begins Oct. 1, including a restoration of the TDC marketing budget.
“We made it through the summer and things are really coming together,” Godwin said. “Everything looks really, really good.”
The TDC is pilot testing, in a way, a Mobi Mat to enhance beach access, including providing ADA compliant access.
As the new normal after Michael will prevent the building of boardwalks, Godwin said the TDC was seeking alternatives to improve beach access.
A Mobi Mat is a lightweight portable non-slip matting that is laid on the ground to provide non-slip and traffic resistant access for all, including wheelchairs and strollers.
The first was placed at the beach access point at U.S. 98 and County 386, across from the Lookout Lounge site.
“We have gotten a lot of great comments about it and we want to get the word out to the public that it is there,” Godwin said.
In addition, the TDC is exploring grant or other funding avenues to increase the number of Mobi Mats placed at beach access points around the county.
The TDC will host an event to commemorate the anniversary of Hurricane Michael at 4 p.m. ET Oct. 10 in George Core Park.
There will be live music, the Lions Club will be cooking and the volunteers who lit up the Cape San Blas Lighthouse for the Christmas season last year will brighten the scene near dark.
The following day, the TDC and the St. Joseph Bay Golf Club will host a day of fun and fundraising with a four-person scramble tournament.
Registration begins 10:30 a.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 11 with a shotgun start at 12 p.m. ET.
There will various contests within the tournament, including closest to the pin, longest drive and a par 3 contest as well as a 50/50.
This is for members and visitors alike.
Cost is $100 per person and includes dinner and a cash bar.