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Marion County officials are addressing the increase in tourists and people moving to Ocala

OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) – The increase in Marion County tourists and residents also brings more money to the area.

“The growth of tourism in Marion County has been attributed to many things.” said Loretta Shaffer, Director of Tourism Development for the Ocala/Marion Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Some of those things that attract people are the World Equestrian Center and the new hotels.

This year, the county is close to seeing the numbers they ended 2023 with, and they plan to use those funds to make the area even more attractive to tourists.

“We are very specific about how we can spend the funds, but we will continue to use the tourism development tax to do our marketing, sales, support special events and really be a catalyst for all the positivity in the county. create this economic prosperity.” Shaffer said.

The Director of Growth Services says they are leaving no one out in their next planning phase and are seeking residents’ input on where the expansion should take place.

“We want to focus on strategic growth. We don’t want overgrowth while keeping that local character. That’s why people want to move here with the springs, the horse farms and the outdoor things that help keep Marion County Marion County.” Chuck Varadin said.

Vardain says that while it’s important to welcome more people into the area, it’s also important to protect what we have.

Horse farms and springs are other attractions for people, but he says we need to take care of them so we can continue to grow the right way.

“We try to balance these elements. Trying to preserve that environmental conservation for our springs and our natural resources and our horse farms and soils and other things that help us grow and thrive as a county.” Varadin said.

County officials plan years ahead, so residents and visitors should expect to see plenty of updates and additions in the years to come.

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