JACK SIMPSON: The downsides of living in Tourism Hell

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Jack Simpson | The Destin Log Columnist

In last week’s column, we discussed the many benefits of living in Tourism Heaven: fine dining, upscale shopping, exciting recreational activities, top shelf entertainment and low property taxes for such high property values, benefits mostly made possible by tourism.

This week, we look at the down-side of tourism as reported to me by a few of our readers. Some of my pro-tourist friends are dismayed that I would also write about the down-side of tourism. But that’s my job: writing about both sides of such controversial issues in my Heaven or Hell columns.

I don’t use these columns to impose my will on The Destin Log’s readers; it is more the other way around. I read your comments and express your opinions in my columns. What you read here is how most Destin citizens feel about these sometimes controversial issues.

For example, reader input is solidly against the sightseeing helicopters that buzz our beaches and businesses from such low and loud altitudes. Some readers refer to them as “Hell Choppers.” Readers are also solidly against the attempted electric utility purchase to be paid for by retail power users. It appears that the only ones for it are current Mayor Scott Fischer and some of the city council members. Some readers have referred to it as “Fischer’s Folly.”

Regarding Tourism Hell, the No. 1 complaint is gridlock traffic during the summer season. Throngs of summer tourists have created a miles-long parking lot in Destin; other times of the year it’s called U.S. Highway 98.

Having to wait in long lines is the next highest complaint. We have to wait at restaurants if we dine out and in grocery store check-out lines if we choose to dine in. We have to wait in lines to go anywhere or to buy anything. We even have to get in line to use the restroom or to throw our chewing gum away. It ain’t fun.

Another problem with a tourism-based economy is the “feast or famine” nature of such seasonal ups and downs. However, the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council has made great strides by attracting more visitors in the winter and shoulder seasons. We fare much better than do our counterparts in Panama City Beach.

One reason for writing about both sides of such controversial issues is not to stir up controversy; it is just the opposite. By bringing these issues out in the open and starting conversations about them, we hope to find common ground and bring us closer together. By doing so, we can enjoy more heaven and less hell in our daily lives.

Look for a special announcement in this space next week. And please let me and The Log’s editor know what you think about Tourism Heaven or Hell by emailing your thoughts to the addresses shown below. We appreciate it.

Jack Simpson has owned and managed rental properties in Destin since 1974 and has lived in the city since 1983. His column is designed to start conversations in the community. To respond to Jack’s column in The Log, email your letter to the editor or guest column to dricketts@thedestinlog.com. To contact Jack directly, email jacksimpson@cox.net.

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