'A lot of people out there': Labor Day weekend has strong showing in Destin (PHOTOS)
There was no shortage of warm weather, sunshine, or visitors in town over the Labor Day weekend in Destin.
"The weekend was very good for almost everybody I've talked to so far," Destin Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Shane Moody told The Log Tuesday morning. "Keep in mind that Labor Day is not typically as busy as Memorial Day."
As the last big hurrah of the summer season, the Labor Day holiday saw good numbers and positive reviews from those in the hospitality and restaurant industries, despite reports that bed tax revenue was relatively flat in Okaloosa County, according to early results.
For May and June, a total of $4.06 million in bed tax was collected in the county, which represents a minimal increase of 0.2 percent compared to the same time last year.
While Okaloosa remained flat, the numbers in Walton County were up by 9.4 percent for the same period. Walton County collected $5.6 million in bed tax.
And what's good for Walton County helps on this side of the county line as well.
"Walton County doing well is good for Okaloosa County," Moody said. "The people that go there are going to come here too, and eat in our restaurants and go shopping."
John Toombs of Harmony Beach Vacations, which has 73 short term rentals in the local area, told The Log that they weren't 100 percent booked, but they had a great holiday weekend nonetheless.
"We were about 90-92 percent booked," he said. "It seemed crowded to me."
While the roadways may have been full of cars, Tommy Green of Destin's Another Broken Egg said the waters along the Intercoastal Waterway were pretty barren.
"I did notice a lack of traffic yesterday (Monday)," he said. "It was almost a ghost town."
As for the restaurant, it was a completely different story.
"Sunday was a big day for us," Green told The Log. "I did almost 600 people yesterday (Monday).
Looking at the month of August, Green said his restaurant's business was up 12 percent over last year.
"We've been very blessed," Green said.
Destin's beaches saw quite a bit of traffic over the three-day weekend, but it was pretty easy going, Beach Safety Chief Joe D'Agostino reports.
"There were a lot of people out there," he said. "It was probably the most crowded I've seen it for Labor Day in quite a while."
D'Agostino said there were no major issues to report from the beach. Beach safety lifeguards will remain on area beaches until the last Sunday in October.
Although locals are reporting a strong holiday weekend overall there is still plenty of room for improvement, Moody said. Given the disarray at the Tourist Development Council over the past couple years, Moody told The Log it's time to shift the demographics that are being marketed toward.
"We ought to be targeting people with income from $70,000-$75,000 and above," he said. "You really want to target people with disposable income."