Destin looking to gain insight from survey about visits to beaches, public access

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

So how was your visit to the beaches in Destin? The city wants to know.

To get a better idea of why people do or don’t come to the beaches, city officials in conjunction with The Haas Center at the University of West Florida are conducting a survey regarding public beach access and the people's experience with Destin’s beaches. 

The survey literally takes just a minute or two to complete. 

Signage for the survey can be seen at the entrance to the O'Steen Beach Trail on Holiday Isle in Destin.

So, where do you find the survey? 

Beachgoers can see signage at each city-operated beach park and trail with two ways to access the survey. They can take the survey online at www.uwf.edu/visitorsurvey or scan the sign’s QR code with their mobile device. 

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The City Council and staff are looking to gather as much data as they can to gain insight on public beach access and people's overall experience with Destin’s beaches. 

The city started the survey in 2019. 

“We have targeted Destin residents as well as visitors,” said Catherine Card, the city's public information manager. 

Beach-goers can scan the QR code on the sign to take the survey about your beach experience.

The final report will be presented to the City council in December. 

“It will cover results from residents and visitors pre-COVID, during COVID and post-COVID,” Card said. 

The Haas Center in June shared preliminary results with the council. 

The city of Destin is conducting a beach experience survey at public access points.

Results showed that from Aug. 20, 2020, to June 16, 2021, 751 people had responded. Of that number, 153 accessed it from a sign on the beach (or the QR code). All others accessed it online (social media). 

“Destin’s public beach access has been an ongoing issue,” Card said. 

"Acquiring public beach access is a top priority in the Destin City Council’s 2020 Strategic Plan. Thankfully, with the expansion at Crystal Beach, we have begun the process to expand public beach in areas where we know there is a pressure point,” she said. 

"We all know there has been a shortage (of beach access) and we need to solve it by acquiring more," said Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis.

"Residents and visitors can do their part by taking this survey to let us know how they feel about our public beach. The information we receive will help us to keep this important project at the forefront and a priority to all the many stakeholders in this process," Jarvis said.

The survey covers such questions as: “Are you a resident or visitor?” “Was there adequate parking?” “Was there enough space at the beach?” and “What is the maximum you would be willing to pay for daily access to a beach on a future trip to Destin, if the money collected were to pay for the addition of a new beach park?” 

Destin has eight beach trails listed on its website: Barracuda Trail, Calhoun Trail, Crystal Beach Trail, O'Steen Trail, Pompano Trail, Shirah Trail, Silver Shells Trail and Tarpon Trail.

Beach parks include June White Decker Beach Park and Norriego Point Beach Park. Also included on the website as an access is Henderson Beach State Park and James Lee Park, a county beach park near the Okaloosa/Walton county line.

“The public’s time and effort in assisting us on this survey, will aide city officials in making improvements for city residents and visitors,” Card said.