With a recent certification of the visitor center in Navarre, Tourist Development Director Julie Morgan has helped Santa RosaCounty literally get on the map with Visit Florida, the state agency promoting tourism in Florida. Morgan made the announcement during last week’s Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners Committee meeting.
So what does being a certified visitor center mean? In a letter from Visit Florida Vice President David Dodd to Morgan, he wrote, “Our research tells us that visitors who stop into a Visit Florida Welcome Center stay longer and spend more money on their Florida vacation based on information and the experience they received at one of our facilities.”
The letter went on to say the visitor center location will be included in the 2016 official road map Visit Florida will produce. The Tourist Development Office will also have more opportunities with the VisitFloridaCertifiedTouristInformationCenter network as well as brochure space at each Visit Florida welcome center.
A year ago, the BOCC appointed the Tennessee transplant Morgan to the Tourist Development Office. Since then she used an appointment to the Visit Florida Visitor Services Committee to get the Navarre visitor center certified by Visit Florida. Morgan said, “On one of our first conference call meetings, I found out about this process…We obviously have a world-class visitor center. It’s beautiful and very accessible to the public, so I set up a site visit and… they were nice enough to come over from the capitol, assess our visitor information center, and gave us the certification we desired.”
Morgan said, “This allows us to further strengthen our relationship with Visit Florida and showcase our beautiful visitor center.”
While Morgan didn’t say the certification would parlay to direct financial support for visitor center activities, she did make a connection with the Florida Citrus Growers Association through her committee appointment. “Any time that we are having an event…that is through our department, we can call them and they will come for free and set up their orange juice stand…and they will hand out free orange juice all day at that festival, or even if it’s one of the corn mazes, or the peanut festival in Jay. They will do that per a request from me as long as it fits into their schedule.”
Commissioner Lane Lynchard said, “It looks like it’s just going to exponentially increase the impressions that Santa RosaCounty gets through all of our visitors, through the presence in the maps, the locations of the visitor center throughout the state. So this is great, anything we can do to let people know where we are, and this certainly will do that.”