Tourism Survey Results Show More Shopping #1 Request

Posted on June 19, 2023 by Romi White

The Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Office recently sought public input on how future capital funding dollars should be expended, and the most sought amenity is for a small boardwalk with open-air shops for local vendors and artists. 

The online survey ended June 1 and 1,695 people ranked 7 allowable options per Florida State Statutes, which govern how tourism tax revenue may be expended.

“We’re pleased to have been able to gather options from local citizens,” said Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Director Julie White. “We understand how these types of amenities can impact recreation on our beach and in Navarre.”

In a 2021 proposal, White introduced the concept for potential new amenities, including the boardwalk, noting retail shopping options are “extremely limited” on Navarre Beach.

“This vision proposes to develop a cluster of small retail shops that will provide a lower cost of entry to small businesses while at the same time provide our citizens and visitors with expanded retail options. These shops can be part of a public-private partnership in which the lease revenue can be used to offset construction and maintenance costs of the facilities.”

White said the inspiration for the boardwalk is the small retail shops in nearby Seaside, Florida.

The ranking results follow:

  1. Small boardwalk with open-air shops for local vendors and artists;
  2. Restroom facilities mid-way down Gulf Blvd;
  3. Amphitheater;
  4. Sound-side dog park;
  5. Sealife mural on water tower;
  6. Pickleball courts;
  7. Welcome to Navarre Beach mural 


A planned amphitheater on the island ranked #3

“The addition of an amphitheater will provide a venue for existing events such as Tunes on the Dunes and also be a springboard for growing and developing new community events,” stated White in the presentation. “Other uses for the space can include green market events on weekend mornings, art and craft fairs etc. Options can be explored for covering the venue to support
all-weather events.”

However, White noted that since the 2021 presentation the county has helped fund a new outdoor stage at Juana’s Pagodas. “We may no longer need the amphitheater,” White said. “This will be for the Board of County Commissioners to decide.”

A proposed water tower mural ranked #5

“Nearly every coastal town along the Northewest Florida Gulf Coast has incorporated public art through the painting of their water towers,” stated White in the presentation. “This vision includes painting both water towers located on Navarre Beach to reflect our native biodiversity and will include our most loved sea turtles.”

Tourist Development Tax (TDT) can only be used for purposes enumerated in section 12.014 (5) (a) and (b), Florida Statutes. (Authorized uses of revenue.) Counties must ensure that they do not spend TDT dollars for other purposes. Attractions such as movie theaters, bowling alleys and privately owned businesses are not eligible for TDT tax funding.

Other potential funding sources for the proposed projects include: park and recreation funds, RESTORE Act and other federal grants, corporate and non-profit sponsors and private donors.