Some Panhandle business leaders are trying to find ways to draw some tourists away from the coastline. The group is called the "Riverway South Apalachicola Choctawhatchee Organization." They are trying to promote natural resources, other than beaches. Their goal is to bring more revenue to places like Calhoun, Franklin and Gadsden counties. They are promoting places like Blue Springs Recreational Area, Florida Caverns and several state parks. The organization formed two years ago to get the word out about what mother nature has to offer.
Members met Thursday afternoon, June 23, to discuss ways to tap into the local Beach's tourism trade. Homer Hirt, the RWSAC President, said "We want to stop [tourists] off for a day on their way to Disney World or to the beach and show them what we have. We think we have a lot here."
State Representative Marti Coley says the extra revenue in the inland counties will benefit all of Florida, "Many people will drive an additional hour to see something that is different or to spend a day away. That's important to this entire state as we work toward revitalizing our economy."
The group is using a $37,000 state grant as well as other raised funds to launch a website and develop an advertising campaign. The group has also started a blog for road trip itineraries. The RWSAC promotes all of its 8-county area.