Editor's Note: This editorial first appeared in our sister paper, The Northwest Florida Daily News.
Travel writers have a problem with our part of the state. When they visit South Florida and see condos lining the beach, they wax poetic about the glittering skyline pulsing with excitement, opulence and glamour. When they visit Northwest Florida and see condos lining the beach, they grumble about overdevelopment.
It’s as if they expected Petticoat Junction but instead found businesses striving to make money. Horrors!
A little of that attitude crept into an article, “Digging for Feasts Across the Florida Panhandle,” published last month in The New York Times. The writer, John O’Connor, had traveled from Destin to the Big Bend sampling oysters and shrimp and such. He made one observation that has riled local folks:
“Destin … bills itself as the ‘World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.’ That might have been true once. Today it’s the region’s most overvisited city and not anywhere to stake a vacation claim, unless your thing is tattoo parlors, T-shirt emporiums and a pastel-stucco surf shop that recalls the gaudiness and grandeur of Graceland.”
We figure “overvisited” is a reboot of that old standby, “overdeveloped.” As criticism, it’s limp. Destin and the rest of Northwest Florida were UNDERvisited in the summer of 2010, the summer of the BP oil spill. Shops closed, restaurants were shuttered and people lost jobs and homes.
Overvisited? We’ll take it, any day.
As for the T-shirt emporiums and tattoo parlors, Destin is a tourist town. Tourists like to buy T-shirts. Some like to get tattoos.
And, yes, tourists like Destin. The Travel Channel’s online poll recently ranked the Destin area the Best Family Beach of 2013. Plenty of people are eager to stake a vacation claim here.
Elsewhere in his entertaining article, Mr. O’Connor said Northwest Florida has “some of the most stunning and untrammeled beachside expanses in America.” He’s right. It does. But we who live here think ALL of it, even an “overvisited” fishing village, is pretty special.