The environment in which Ocala/Marion County tourism operates has continued to meet the fluctuating pace of the tourism economy. Through constant change, Ocala/Marion County has experienced continued growth in overall visitation, tourist tax collections, room occupancy, room revenues, and increased visitation to attractions and events. Importantly, the local tourism community is feeling confident due to new and expanded tourism-related products and services emerging, such as hotels, restaurants, attractions, venues, facilities, and more. Despite the positive momentum, the VCB recognized it neither had assessed long-range planning, nor brand pillars and brand identity in many, many years. To strategically plan long-term for economic impact success through tourism initiatives, a new five-year strategic plan was commissioned in advance of new brand identity and brand evolution projects. The challenge ahead was this: where does the destination desire to go with tourism and what is needed to achieve long-term success?
The five-year strategic plan serves as a blueprint through 2023 for the Ocala Marion County Visitors & Convention Bureau to drive economic growth through tourism. To develop the roadmap for the plan, extensive research was conducted throughout industry, stakeholder, community and consumer segments. The plan outlined research findings, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and established clear goals and tactical recommendations while aligning with Marion County’s “Empowering Marion for Success” initiatives. The 71-page bound plan unveiled key strategic imperatives: Product Development; Marketing and Promotion; Research; and Partnership Development. In addition, five core tourism drivers – referred to as “front porch offerings” – were identified to guide tourism initiatives: Horse/Equine; Outdoor Adventure/Ecotourism; Sports & Sporting Events; Arts, Culture, History, Heritage and Education; and Dining/Entertainment. Annual tracking forms for each tactic within the plan were created to monitor all accountable parties and plan success metrics. Additionally, annual integrated advertising, marketing, and communications plans were purposefully developed to align and support the five-year strategic plan.
- Five-Year Strategic Plan Development and Deployment
- Overall Economic Impact Increase
- Tourism Tax Collection Increase
- Successful Brand Research Project
- Product Development Improvements