Because of the global pandemic and economic recession that took over most of 2020, Navarre Beach, like many tourist destinations, saw its tourism tax revenues plummet in March, April and May as beaches shut down and uncertainty about the coronavirus crippled vacation markets globally. 

But curiously, by the end of the year Navarre Beach was bucking the trend seen throughout much of the rest of the Panhandle — its tourism tax revenue was up almost 27% in October and 55% in November, a surge that helped soften the downturn seen at the beginning of the pandemic. 

“We lost our money in March, April and May, but we still came in at $3.5 million for the whole year, which is only $400,000 less than the year prior,” Santa Rosa County tourism director Julie White said in an interview with the News Journal on Wednesday. “We would have made way over ($3.5 million) if we hadn’t been shut down in March, April and May, so we would have had a record-breaking year, over $4 million.”

Connie and Paul Reinhardt, of Louisville, Kentucky, and Mike and Cissie Roma, of South Royalton, Vermont, chat Wednesday while having lunch at Windjammers on the Pier overlooking Navarre Beach.

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By comparison, neighboring Pensacola Beach saw its tourism development tax revenue jump just about 3% in November and Perdido Key revenue dropped 30% in November. 

Rusty Branch, the community engagement director for Innisfree Hotels, which manages several Pensacola Beach hotels, said the November downturn was a direct result of pandemic fears, Hurricane Sally damage and the closure of the Three Mile Bridge — things which affected Pensacola Beach more than Navarre Beach.