Thursday, February 19, 2015

President's Message: Early 2015 Observations

Yes, it’s only February 2015.  But there are some things happening that have caught our attention.  And some of it is very intriguing.

Who would have thought that a name-change for the airport would be so controversial and receive so much negativity?  It’s a name-change that is needed.  It’s been interesting to read and hear the reasons the change is “bad.” 

There are those outside of Destin who felt it was unfair that Destin was listed first in the new name.  That’s not something I understand.  The Destin Area Chamber has said for years that Destin is the brand name for region.  Destin generates at least 65% of the bed tax that funds the TDC/TDD/CVB.  Destin represents upwards of 45% of the tax base for all of Okaloosa County.  And if you really want to be fair, Destin is first alphabetically. 

Then there was the talk about the word ‘international’ being used.  I tend to agree with those who said it was simply a marketing and perception word.  Many airports across the country use ‘international’ in their name, yet no international flights land or take-off from them.  Then there’s the talk that’s existed for years about bringing in charter flights from Europe, Canada, and the ever-expanding Latin American markets.  Add to that the fact that, according to VISIT FLORIDA, travelers from China are going to become the largest segment of international travelers in the world.  Wouldn’t the use of ‘international’ make sense?

The airport name isn’t the only issue that has been interesting to watch.  It’s just the only issue that’s been heard and seen.  There have been meetings about welcome signage across the county.  At one time, those meetings included all the stakeholders affected by the signs.  Now, there are meetings taking place with individual groups with specific interests about the signs.  The Destin Area Chamber has made it a priority for these signs to be placed across the entire county, not just Destin.  We’ve been vocal at meetings and with resolutions of support, yet not included in these recent discussions. Interesting, to say the least.

I congratulate the Okaloosa County Board of Commissioners for voting for the name-change, even without the use of ‘international’ in the new name.  I just hope all the negativity and controversy isn’t a sign of the communities in this area becoming splintered and fractured.  I also hope the meetings about signage and other issues in Okaloosa County are not a sign of splintering or fracturing.  The chambers of commerce have worked too hard over the past several years to bring our communities together – and have made great strides.  I’d hate to see that work be for nothing.

Thank you for your continued support of your Chamber.  2014 was a great year under the leadership of Amy Perry of Pleat, Perry, & Ritchie, PA.  And 2015 has begun with a bang under the guidance of Ken Wampler of Newman-Dailey Resort Properties.  I guarantee he’ll work for you the same way Amy did.  After all, that’s how we’ll continue to build this world-class community one business at a time.

With wishes for continued success, 
Shane Moody, CCE, FCCP
President & CEO
Destin Area Chamber of Commerce

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