South Walton makes National Geographic places to visit in 2019 list

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SOUTH WALTON, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Beaches, biking, and hiking are a few things that attract people to South Walton.

"This is an amazing award for us," said Visit South Walton's Communications Director, David Demarest.

Demarest believes being on this list will bring more recognition to the area worldwide.

"This part of Florida is being discovered on a national and international scale and I think that's really gonna help out," said Demarest.

But for many, this area has been a travel destination for years.

"We have thought this beach was the most beautiful place for so long, the sand is so soft and white," said Pamela Carver who has traveled from Nashville for years to visit the area.

While visitors like Carver come for the winter season, summer is usually more popular.

Demarest hopes this list will give more people a mindset like the Carvers.

"What we try to do is build tourism year-round, try to keep our economy going strong," said Demarest.

While people can enjoy outdoor activities here, this also means more money for local business owners, because tourism alone already brings in four billion dollars into the total economic impact.

"I think this is going to be a great shot in the arm, big time," said owner and chef of Cuvee 30A and 30A Burger, Tim Creehan.

Creehan says he knew this area should have made the list.

"We spotted this area, you know, like, 10 years ago, waited till five years ago, saw all the growth coming this way, we saw a great demographic and we just thought this was gonna be the place to be," said Creehan.

"About 22,000 jobs are supported by tourism so it's critical for our friends and our neighbors and everyone that owns a small business really relies on tourism," said Demarest.

And if more tourists visit year round, more tax money will flow through the local economy because according to Visit South Walton, visitors pay 65 percent of all Walton County taxes.