UPDATE (10/5/21 10:08 p.m. Voters in Okaloosa County have approved extending the tourism development tax district to more than 3,000 condos, rental properties, and Airbnbs.
Guests at those properties will now pay a 5% tax that was previously added to overnight stays in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Mary Esther, Cinco Bayou, and Okaloosa Island.
The bed-tax money is used to promote tourism.
The unofficial results were posted Thursday night, the votes will be finalised Thursday at 5:00 p.m.
OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — A historic vote by residents Tuesday night could add more than 3,000 condos and vacation properties to Okaloosa County’s Tourist Development Taxing District.
Currently, Okaloosa is one of five counties in the state to not have a tourism tax countywide. Until now, only overnight guests in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island, Mary Esther and Cinco Bayou have had tourism tax charges.
The vote is being made only by residents not currently in those district areas, including Shalimar, Niceville, Valparaiso, Crestview, Laurel Hill, more sections of Fort Walton Beach, Mary Esther and Unincorporated Okaloosa County.
If the residents vote in favor of the tax, called the bed tax, the money collected would be used for tourism development projects.
The Current Tourist Development Taxing District (TDD):
The charge is different for each county in the state. For Okaloosa County, the overnight bed tax is 5%. This tax is collected on properties like hotels, campsites, even AirBNB’s and VRBO listings.
Okaloosa County said registered voters in the existing district do not get to vote because they have previously voted in favor of collecting bed tax in their district.
The county broke down a list of FAQ’s in this link.
As a special add-on, the money gathered from properties in Destin and Fort Walton Beach will go directly back into those communities as a historical tax district, not to be spent elsewhere in the county.
The Tourism Development Council (TDC) oversees the funds from the bed tax.
The last of the mail-in ballots are due Tuesday night for the special election. Results are expected after 7 p.m. Central Time.
What this means for Okaloosa County visitors:
Tourists that stay in areas not included previously on the bed tax will see the added percentage to their bills.
This might change some travel plans for those that stay in other areas of Okaloosa County to come down for big events on the coast.
WKRG News 5 has reached out to the TDC and Okaloosa County for more information.