MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Marion County officials said they are seeing an economic boost in tourism tax dollars as more people visit the area.
Michael Fogarty and his wife said they wanted to leave New York and spend some time in Marion County.
“Everybody’s getting out of the north now,” Fogarty said.
The couple is spending a few days in Central Florida with their dog, Irma.
“There’s not insane traffic here. The dining is great here,” Fogarty said. “Everybody’s still wearing a mask up north. New York is not quite as open.”
County officials said visitors, like the Fogarty’s, who may be staying in short-term rentals are contributing to Marion County’s Tourist Development Tax revenue.
The county said it collected a record-breaking $402,060 in March, according to county tax reports.
Justin Garner, the director of hospitality operations for the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, said the facility is contributing to the economic boost.
“We started our summer series last week and it’s brought in a lot of new visitors, people who weren’t able to come before due to COVID or travel restrictions,” Garner said.
The facility features 300 acres of developed property, including several outdoor and indoor arenas, shops, restaurants, and a luxury hotel.
Garner said some visitors venture outside the property during their stay.
“We’re seeing a lot of first-time visitors who are going to downtown Ocala and going to the springs,” he said.
Other attractions are expected to contribute to the economic boost. Over the summer, several youth sporting events are expected to bring an estimated economic impact of more than $4 million, according to the Ocala/Marion Visitors and Convention Bureau.
Event organizers said they are hopeful that as travel restrictions go down, more international visitors will travel to Marion County.
This isn’t the only attraction in Marion County. Over the summer - several youth sporting events are expected to bring an estimated economic impact of more than $4 million, according to the Ocala/Marion Visitors and Convention Bureau.