TOURISM: Your tax dollars at work

Travelers from across the world have found the Three Sisters Spring area in Crystal River. During the peak of manatee season, the area attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the county.

For decades, the draw of Citrus County has been its coast: Manatees, clear waters and the fruit of the sea.

In the 1990s, strategists with Citrus 20/20 sought out ways to help regulate the booming tourism industry and implement professional standards.

Discussions then gave rise to the Manatee Eco-Tourism Association, or META, a citizen-run group that’s still active today in ensuring best practices for area guides who are often the first points of contact for visitors.

But does Citrus County want to be known just for ecotourism?

TOURISM: Your tax dollars at work

Manatees at Three Sisters Springs provide the county’s top tourism attraction.

Enter Citrus 2030 and its Tourism, Recreation, and Social Venues Aspiration Group.

“We’re excited to be able to focus on the ecotourism successes that Citrus 20/20 had, but kind of expand into these more overarching themes,” said group member Veronica Kampschroer, industry relations manager for Discover Crystal River Florida, part of the Citrus County Visitors & Convention Bureau.

Citrus 2030, Leadership Citrus’ successor to Citrus 20/20, and its 10 subcommittees are on a mission to get locals and guests talking about what they what they want the county to look like in the next decade.

For most of the day on Oct. 5 at the College of Central Florida’s Citrus campus in Lecanto, Citrus 2030 will host its Vision Check, soliciting every bit of public comment it can to better plan for the years ahead — and that goes for tourism and recreation.

“We just want people who are passionate about this specific topic ... to be involved with the visioning process by specifically filling out the survey or volunteering during the Vision Check,” Kampschroer said. “Whatever comes out of this needs to be the voice of Citrus County and not the voice of one person or organization.”

“We want the community to develop actionable items ... so we really can pinpoint what exactly we’re looking at going forward,” added Cross, who works in administration at the Citrus County Tax Collector’s Office. Cross' boss, Tax Collector Janice Warren, spearheaded Citrus 20/20 and is doing the same with Citrus 2030.

Along with soliciting ideas that’ll keep strengthening the county’s defined tourism trades, Kampschroer and Cross want people to have a say on what group and leisure amenities should be in the county.

Hence their subcommittee's name: Tourism, Recreation, and Social Venues.

“We do feel that anywhere from younger children, to young adults and even further, the community has expressed a need for additional things in the county to keep them here,” Cross said.

That doesn’t just go for visitors, or who the county considers anyone staying locally for less than six months, it goes for natives and their families the county wants to retain.

Citrus 2030 Logo

“We want to make sure that people who are growing up in this community ... want to stay in Citrus County because it’s a dynamic place with things to do and see on the weekends or on our off-time,” Kampschroer said. 

Kampschroer and Cross said their roles in Citrus 2030 are not just strengthened by what they do for a living, but because they live in the county and plan to stay in the county.

“We are of the millennial age group that doesn’t want to leave here,” Kampschroer said. “We don’t want to be one of the statistics of people who leave and don’t come back, we want some of those opportunities.”

“We have a vested interested in our community; we’re passionate about it, we grew up here,” Cross said. “It means a future in Citrus County.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Buster Thompson at 352-564-2916 or bthompson@chronicleonline.com.

(1) comment

RobertRoscow

Given Friends efforts to offer an interpretative park that the Suncoast bike path would pass through the only historic town of its type on the National Register in the nation , Etna Turpentine Camp, bikers will now be able to admire a power line and future 8 lane toll road. The Chronicle supported this idiocy by opposing it as it would stop the S.C. 2 and personally attacked me. Obviously the presence of the town of Etna did not stop the toll road. Ignorance of the National Historic Preservation Act Of 1966 and Section 106 by their editorial board, the BOCC, writers Wright and Bates did. We also found that the majority of residents in the county are NIMBYs, caring nothing for that outside the boundaries of the helter skelter developments they live in. Their world view is similar to that of the Villagers. What the county will be known for is now is two major 8 lane toll roads fragmenting their conservation lands, bridges over marshes and rivers and all the other baggage that comes with them. Galvano and Tpk took the weakest link to run all these toll roads through, Citrus County. They didn’t go through Alachua and Marion counties because they knew they would fight to the death to preserve their open space and agricultural lands, their equine industry. Citrus county they knew to be an easy foe. How you get through Lake Panasofkee , Gum Slough, Potts Preserve, Two Mile Prairie, and then north through the coastal lands is beyond me. Ignorance and greed are a dangerous mixture. Chronicle, take plenty of pictures of the destruction of our beautiful county and new WaWas . We I guess are the passed over rural areas that Galavano and gang want to bring into the future by destroying them so developers can profit and the Chronicle can sell ads.

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