Several Okaloosa County’s Tourism Development Department employees will head across the northern border (not Alabama) to extoll the virtues of not being cold during the winter to Canadians.
TDD members will spend roughly $10,600 to mix and mingle with potential vacationers and tour guide operators in Calgary, Montréal and Toronto in the hopes that they will head to Northwest Florida for a week or two in the relative warmth of the Emerald Coast.
In case you were worried that members of the TDD would be having too much fun on the taxpayers’ dime while they are up there – the average high temperatures for Calgary (43º), Toronto (32º) and Montréal (42º) are about 30-40º cooler than Niceville at the same time.
The representatives will market our areas swimming, diving, and paddling opportunities to our northern neighbors who, on average, stay longer and spend more money than American tourists due to the longer travel time, according to the Tourism Development Department.
But not all county commissioners were in favor of the planned trips. District Three Commissioner Nathan Boyles, who represents the western portion of Niceville and Valparaiso and the northwest quadrant of the county, voted against the trips. “I like the idea of focusing on these markets,” Boyles said of Canada, “but I’m not sure this is the way to do it. It comes to [the county commission] not because of the dollar value but because of the international travel associated with it. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to see it. But, I’m not comfortable voting for it.”
Several commissioners opposed Boyles’ stance on the issue -including Commissioners Paul Mixon and Carolyn Ketchel. Mixon spoke after Boyles and said, “There is definitely a desire to come to our area, so I think it is a great move forward.” Ketchel added, “This is one of our areas that we get a lot of our snowbirds from, so I’m very in favor of this.”
The Commission passed the measure by a vote of 4-1, meaning the Tourism Department will move forward with the plan.