SEBRING, Fla (Feb. 20, 2023) – Visit Sebring/Highlands County Tourist Development Council (TDC) was recently awarded a $50,000 state grant to assist in identifying strategic opportunities and to create a plan for recreational facility enhancements and developments that will increase tourism to Highlands County while also benefiting county residents with additional recreational opportunities.
“Many destinations are enhancing and/or building facilities that support tourism events on the weekends while serving as a community recreation asset during the week and we are interested in similar opportunities for Highlands County,” said Casey Hartt, Visit Sebring’s lead marketing consultant. “We will rely on results from this study to help determine facility specifications, ideal location(s), and what amenities we will need to offer so we can be competitive in attracting new events to the area during low tourism times of the year that will positively impact our local economy.”
The study is funded by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and will be completed no later than May 2023. The County has engaged the services of the Huddle Up Group (HUG) and the Central Florida Regional Planning Council (CFRPC) to conduct the research.
“Sports tourism has grown steadily in Highlands County over the past several years bringing visitor dollars into the area when hotels, restaurants and attractions need it,” said Huddle Up Group Founder/CEO Jon Schmieder. “The opportunity here is to look intentionally at what assets need to be developed or enhanced to continue this upward trajectory in the highly desirable market that is sports tourism.”
Tactics used to complete the research will include visitor, resident, and event planner surveys; data collection; economic impact analysis; focus groups; and an evaluation of current tourism assets and events, as well as those held in neighboring destinations. A survey link is currently posted on the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners Facebook page, and postcards with a QR code to the online survey are also available at Avon Park, Sebring and Lake Placid Town Halls, libraries, and Chambers of Commerce, as well as the County’s Tourism Development Office located at 501 S. Commerce Avenue in Sebring. The survey will be available online until March 10, and the link is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HC-Survey2023.
“The study will help identify the need and opportunity for recreational facility development and address the diverse recreational needs of Highlands County residents and visitors,” said Jennifer Codo-Salisbury, Executive Director of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council. “Based on the research, a framework for growth will be developed, which will increase opportunities for tourism, recreation, hospitality and employment resulting in a more livable, sustainable community.”
For more information, please call the Visit Sebring office at (863) 402-6909.
Visit Sebring is the destination marketing organization managed by the Highlands County Tourist Development Council (TDC). The TDC is funded by a Tourist Development Tax (TDT) on accommodations of less than six months. The TDC is not funded by Highlands County residents. The mission of the TDC is to contribute to a positive quality of life for the residents of Highlands County through destination promotion, tourism development, advocacy, and resource management – which are foundation pieces for future economic growth. For more information, visit http://www.VisitSebring.com or find us on social media @VisitSebring.