Tourism numbers down

Tourists gather near Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River to take in the natural elements the river offers. Recent tourism numbers show a decline in the number of overnight visitors to local hotels.

CORRECTION: A story on Page A1 of Sunday’s edition, “County tourism drops,” needs correction.

Tourism in Citrus County dropped 4.1 percent in 2019. Recently released tourism numbers show that in the 4th quarter of 2019, the number of visitors increased 1.6 percent compared to the same three months of 2018.

The Chronicle has reworked this story from its original format to include data released Feb. 7, 2020.


New tourism numbers out Thursday show hotel and motel visitations to Citrus County posted a slight uptick from October to December 2019.

It’s the first increase in comparison of quarter over quarter in more than a year.

“Despite some softness in October demand, for the fourth quarter of 2019, lodgings reported benefiting from events like the dragon boat races, art festival, and rodeo; robust holiday business; and a strong start to the manatee season,” according to Research Data Services (RDS), a consultant with the Citrus County Tourist Development Council (TDC).


Estimated Numbers of Overnight Commercial Lodging Visitors

Source: Research Data Services

Quarter Totals Previous Year's Quarter Totals % Change
Oct-Dec. 2018 110,800 118,500 -6.5
Jan-March 2019 128,000 132,100 -3.1
April-June 2019 129,700 134,500 -3.6
July-Sept 2019 130,900 145,300 -9.9
Oct-Dec 2019 112,600 110,800 +1.6

The news was encouraging because County tourism numbers had dropped for the first time in five years.    

Citrus County had 31,000 fewer overnight visitors to local hotels during fiscal year 2019 (October 2018 to September 2019), according to RDS.

In all, 499,400 people visited Citrus County from October 2018 to September 2019. That’s a drop of 5.8% from 530,400 the same period a year earlier, or fiscal year 2018. This was the first year-over-year downturn in five years. The data does not include visitors to local RV parks, Airbnbs and campgrounds.

Pricher blamed much of the downturn to the red tide which affected tourism in coastal counties to the south. Even though the destructive algae bloom never made it to Citrus County, it led many tourists to believe it was statewide, Pricher said.

The consultant’s study, which will be presented at the Feb. 12 Citrus County Tourist Development Council (TDC) meeting, attributed the falloff in tourists to several factors: rainy weather, reports of a slower scallop season, the threat of Hurricane Dorian and the discontinuation of the large number of temporary employees working on Duke Energy’s new natural gas plant.

County Commissioner Scott Carnahan said at a recent board meeting tourism is climbing in Citrus County despite a year-end controversy involving a New York Times digital subscription that created a national firestorm.

"The New York Times didn't affect any people from coming to our county, like they put in the paper," he said. "We have more and more people coming to our county and visiting because of the natural beauty that we have, but yet they want to put false information (in) the paper."

Carnahan and TDC Chairman Ron Kitchen have declined to talk to the Chronicle about the numbers.

Pricher remain confident that 2019 was an aberration and tourism numbers will rebound.

“I don’t see it being a long-term trend,” Pricher said.

 

 

 

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com.

(13) comments

Lourie Schultz

Nobody, nobody here knows how to properly take an actual count on these numbers in Citrus County. These figures are filled with personal opinions and self interest. As a resident, if I go collect clams I am counted simply because I parked my car and put my boat in the water. If a person came here for temporary work such as construction or the electrical company they are counted simply because they stayed in a motel or hotel. These are not tourist ! And neither am I. I "live" here and play here along with my family. These numbers have never been right, they are not right now, and next years numbers will be off also. Just go by the progress of restaurants staying open, traffic on the main roads, buying of homes by x-tourists that liked us well enough to join our happy county. After all is said and done, it is getting harder and harder to find an original native here. Most all have come from other places, most all students attended schools earlier in other cities and states, but for me, all are welcome along with the progress and I have been attached to this grand county for going on 50 years now, and still love it. Some things yes, I do miss, like the St. Pete Times, Changes of news stories from day to day instead of reading the same stories everyday of the week in our daily paper, I miss the straight a-ways on the main roads that now have 'special' lanes attached and many more traffic lights, I miss the wooded areas but enjoy the closeness of a hamburger on occasion or a quick purchase of milk when I run out and can get some within 10 minutes at a convenience store, Yea, that costs more, but I would have spent that savings at the town store plus the added gas used. So, yes, I am happy with the way things are going.

PatriciaOatsvall

First off those numbers can be adjusted due to national trends. Quit trying to sell this great town that truly was a quiet little town and continue to populate it to sell commerce and bottom line expand the budget. The veterans hwy is going to change this county for ever. Not for the good that right-away that comes with that will steal water and power.

PatriciaOatsvall

First off get away with your personal opinion of Scott or Ron you due that at election. The big picture is the county. We are selling our futures. Look forward let’s just 6 lane up 19 from here to I-10 put a hamburger stand every 3 miles and say it’s progress. Sprawl and crawl.

ShannonSteele

Is anyone else troubled by the fact that Ron Kitchen has a “new policy of not talking to the Chronicle?” I don’t always agree with the Chronicle, but I certainly expect our local leaders to interact with it, and use it as a vehicle to express their views. I’m both flabbergasted and frustrated buy that new policy.

Ssabmud

What you get when you elect Banana Republicans to office.

Bill Biedenstein

Commissioner Carnahan now your comments, that is truly FAKE News. True facts show 31,000 less visitors. That's REAL NEWS.

LizBurda

According to the numbers mentioned in the article there was a total 31.000 decrease in the number of overnight stays in the entire fiscal year from Oct 2018 to Set 2019, calculating to a loss of 2583 overnight stays per month. This decrease happened before the “controversy”, meaning the “controversy” could not possibly be attributed to the lower number of overnight stays during that time frame. Then post “controversy” there was a decrease of 7700 overnight stays spread over a 3-month time frame (loss of 2566/month). If the overnight stays were evenly distributed that would reflect no loss of overnight stays, in fact an increase of 49 overnight stays. The article stated during the 3-month (post controversy) time frame there was 6.5% decrease in number of overnight stays compared to 5,8% “pre-controversy”, noting a possible 0.7% decreasing is overnight stays due to the “controversy”. I would be interested in knowing when all Duke energy temporary employees left the area as I imagine that would have a large impact on the total number of overnight stays. When reading this article, one must be cautious to understand the 31,000 loss of overnights stays cannot be attributed to the “controversy” as most of those losses happened well before the “controversy. At the most, a 0.7% decrease could possibly be attributed to the “controversy”. Nice try Chronicle!!!!

FloridaGuy

Chronicle reported the numbers you (Liz) quoted, although there is an impression that Carnahan caused it, which as you state isn't true.

Lourie Schultz

You bring up some very good points LizBurda, thank you. No way should construction crew members or temp. workers staying in motels be considered as tourist counts which I believe was done in the original counting. No body asked these overnighters what their business was here, they simply took the fast count of registered guests off the books.

FloridaGuy

Bill, numbers were down all year long, not just starting in October, after the New York Times issue.

DRFlorida

Carnahan a comments hurt the economy. Stop denying it.

DRFlorida

Surely didn’t help. Ignorance is not appealingly to visitors.

LizBurda

According to the numbers mentioned in the article there was a total 31.000 decrease in the number of overnight stays in the entire fiscal year from Oct 2018 to Set 2019, calculating to a loss of 2583 overnight stays per month. This decrease happened before the “controversy”, meaning the “controversy” could not possibly be attributed to the lower number of overnight stays during that time frame. Then post “controversy” there was a decrease of 7700 overnight stays spread over a 3-month time frame (loss of 2566/month). If the overnight stays were evenly distributed that would reflect no loss of overnight stays, in fact an increase of 49 overnight stays. The article stated during the 3-month (post controversy) time frame there was 6.5% decrease in number of overnight stays compared to 5,8% “pre-controversy”, noting a possible 0.7% decreasing is overnight stays due to the “controversy”. I would be interested in knowing when all Duke energy temporary employees left the area as I imagine that would have a large impact on the total number of overnight stays. The new Duke energy plant opened in April, 2019 so I am guessing jobs tapered off in March of 2019, leading to a large part of the decrease in overnight stays after March 2019. When reading this article, one must be cautious to understand the 31,000 loss of overnights stays cannot be attributed to the “controversy” as those losses happened well before the “controversy. At the most, a 0.7% decrease could possibly be attributed to the “controversy”. Nice try Chronicle!!!!

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