AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. (WCTV) – As more people pack the Capital City, the tourism industry continues to grow in Leon County.
According to Leon County’s tourism department, tourism had a $900 million direct economic impact on the county last year. And, it provides 14,000 jobs. With those numbers, and more, the department is now focusing on implementing its new strategic plan.
The three year plan hits on four main initiatives, including advocating for destination development, increasing the awareness of the visitor economy, enhancing the visitor experience and increasing its marketing budget.
Tourism Director Kerri Post said growing the industry is important to residents because it helps pay for many of the infrastructure improvements they want.
“Just last year, visitors paid about 26 million dollars in local sales tax here in Leon County. And that goes towards infrastructure such as improving roads, enhancing schools. It goes into the county budget,” said Post.
She also pointed out that the growth of the tourism industry is easily visible in the amount of hotel construction the city is seeing. Two hotels have already opened this year, and six more are under construction.
Some of the driving factors for the growth are the county’s signature events like the Red Hills Horse Trials and Word of South. Post also attributes it to the success of the cross country field at Apalachee Regional Park. In the coming years the county will host several major races there including the NCAA Championship in 2021.
As part of its strategic plan, the county hopes to generate $5 billion in direct economic impact by 2021.