Although new businesses and restaurants have been opening all throughout Ocala, a new report shows tourism visits and dollars are not as high as they were in 2019.
The information comes from an economic impact study and visitor tracking report by Downs & St. Germain Research, a market research firm based in Tallahassee. The report, which covers January to March 2021, was presented to the Marion County Tourism Development Council during their regular meeting on May 27.
According to the report, over 506,400 visitors came to the Ocala area in the first quarter of 2019, spending over $241.8 million in direct expenditures.
Those expenditures include spending for accommodations, restaurants, entertainment, shopping, transportation, and groceries, among other categories.
This year, the number of overall visitors from January through March dropped to 474,700, a decrease of 6.3%. Those visitors spent a total of $223.7 million in direct expenditures, or a decrease of about 7.5% from the 2019 figure.
According to the report, the overall total economic impact decreased around $14 million (from $367.6 million in 2019 to $353.5 million in 2021).
The report provides additional insight into the types of travelers the area receives, suggesting that the top reasons for visiting were attendance at horse shows and events, and visiting relatives or friends in the area.