Revenue has increased in Santa Rosa County almost $2 million per year since 2014-2015 from bed tax, with Navarre Beach playing a huge role in growth.
NAVARRE BEACH — It may be small and undeveloped compared to the other beaches in Northwest Florida, such as Destin and South Walton.
However, that fact helps make the growth of visitors at Navarre Beach continue to climb.
For the past 12 months, the four-mile stretch of barrier island in Santa Rosa County reached $3.9 million in bed tax — a record for the fifth consecutive year. The revenue increased $1.7 million since fiscal year 2014-2015 when it totaled more than $2.1 million.
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Julie White, Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Director, rejoiced at witnessing the bed tax jump by 19.08 percent over the previous fiscal year when it surpassed $3 million for the first time in history.
“Navarre Beach can only be built out so much,” White said. “Never on the island are you going to see it overgrow.”
The beach includes a county park with pavilions and a kayak launch, two marine centers and the largest pier in Northwest Florida at 1,545 feet. Plus, it includes a variety of threatened and endangered wildlife, such as leatherback sea turtles and snowy plovers.
Dave Piech, the District 4 Santa Rosa County Commissioner, said the increased collection in the tourism development tax lets residents enjoy more improved amenities.
“Its natural beauty is still the main attraction preserved from the beach all the way up to the woodlands,” Piech said.
Bob Benaqueis, who owns TC’s Front Porch on Navarre Beach Parkway, said people want to relax and they can do that at Navarre Beach.
“We are Florida,” Benaqueis said. “We are on the Emerald Coast. We have easy access from Interstate-10.”