FORT WALTON BEACH — The Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council has two new websites designed for two very different purposes.
Earlier this month, Okaloosa County added a new tab to its county departments menu on its main website, www.co.okaloosa.fl.us, devoted to providing the public with more information on how the tourist development council is operated in the wake of the Mark Bellinger scandal.
Okaloosa County's new tourism development website is at www.co.okaloosa.fl.us/tdc_main.html.
That was followed by last week’s launch of the TDC’s new Emerald Coast Film Commission website, www.filmemeraldcoast.com, designed to attract film and television productions to Okaloosa County.
“We’ve never had an independent, freestanding website of our own,” said Gail Morgan, Okaloosa County’s film commissioner. “When someone is searching for a place to film, it’s going to give us a lot more exposure. Not just nationwide, but globally.”
The film commission’s website features links to local talent agencies, a photo gallery by Scott Jackson from Photos Florida of two dozen possible site locations and a place for area production companies to list what services they offer.
Although Northwest Florida is known primarily for its beaches when it comes to tourism, Morgan said Okaloosa County offers much more than that to film and television crews, including the rivers, lakes, woods and small towns.
“I think we’re right on the verge here of just exploding,” Morgan said.
In the area just last week, the Travel Channel was in Destin filming a piece on resort communities, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee filmed a piece and a local producer filmed an independent feature film. The biggest project in recent years was last year’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” which was filmed at Hurlburt Field and the Northwest Florida Regional Airport.
Filming on the fourth film in the Transformers franchise is expected to start next year for a June 2014 release. Morgan has kept in touch with Transformers producer Ian Bryce, who told her at a Producers Guild of America event last year how much he wants to come back to the area.
Okaloosa County’s new tourist development page on its website was created to show local residents the responsibilities of the department, how the 5-cent bed tax is collected by the clerk of courts and how each of those cents is being used.
“We just saw a void of that side of our tourism that really hadn’t been represented very well in the past,” said Okaloosa County Administrator Jim Curry. “Particularly in light of what’s transpired the last couple of years, we felt it was appropriate to develop that type of information and have it available to the public.
“We have a lot more we want to put out here on it, but this gets it started,” he added.
Contact Daily News Business Editor Dusty Ricketts at 850-315-4448 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DustyRnwfdn.