About the Walton County Tourism Department / Visit South Walton
The Mission of the Walton County Tourism Department is to protect and strengthen the South Walton brand in order to bolster the Walton County tourism economy. The department will manage and maintain our beaches as a primary attraction and serve as the Destination Marketing Organization responsible for protecting and promoting tourism and the high-quality of life enjoyed in Walton County.
The Walton County Tourism Department is funded exclusively through a tourist occupancy tax or bed tax, which is collected from visitors on short-term lodging rentals of six months or less. Locals do not pay a bed tax, unless they are taking a "staycation" in local accommodations. The bed tax collected south of the Choctawhatchee Bay is 5%.
Each of the pennies has a designated funding purpose. The breakdown is as follows:
1st and 2nd cents: Administrative, marketing and beach maintenance
Administrative costs come out of the first two cents and the remaining funds are divided amongst marketing to advertise South Walton, to promote tourism, for beach maintenance, to maintain the beach accesses and improve facilities within the boundaries of the 26 miles of coastline south of the Choctawhatchee Bay.
3rd cent: Beach nourishment and maintenance
To finance beach park facilities, beach improvement, maintenance, renourishment, restoration and erosion control of the beach.
4th cent: Product development/shoulder season funding
Funds seasonal marketing, beach safety including lifeguard funding, eco-tourism, Artist of the Year and community recognition programs, event grant sponsorships and marketing, code enforcement, and beach ambassador program.
5th cent: Infrastructure development & improvement
This collection is available to counties determined by the state to be a high-impact tourist county. The Walton County Board of County Commissioners indicated their desire to use these funds to develop, repair or improve visitor-related infrastructure and fund any high-impact operational costs.