Mark A. Bonn received his Doctorate in Tourism Marketing and Research with an emphasis on Resource Development, from Texas A&M University in 1982. He is a tenured Full Professor in the College of Business, Dedman School of Hospitality, at Florida State University. He is a member of the Graduate Faculty, Department of Marketing and also holds a distinguished chair position entitled “The Robert Dedman Professor of Services Management”. He established, and directs the Resort & Condominium Management summer program at Florida State University.
Dr. Bonn serves on three editorial review boards for leading tourism journals, and has published over 40 articles in the area of hospitality and tourism as they relate to marketing, service quality, and sustainable tourism. They appear in such scholarly journals as The International Journal of Hospitality Management, The Journal of Travel Research, The Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing, and The Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research.
Some of his recent clients include Tourism Development Councils for Bay, Broward, Dade, Escambia, Hillsborough, Leon, Monroe, Okaloosa, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Santa Rosa, St. Johns, and Walton Counties (Florida). Other clients include the American Hotel Foundation, Small Business Administration, Amelia Island Chamber of Commerce, Abbott Resorts, Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Association, the United States Army, the United Nations, the Governments of Argentina, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Martin, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Venezuela, and the Suwannee River Water Management District.
Dr. Bonn's most recently completed projects entailed a four county study of the economic costs and benefits associated with the State of Florida's Artificial Reefs program in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Monroe counties, and an eight county study of eco-tourism potential for rural economic development in the Suwannee River.
Dr. Bonn has worked in management positions with ski resorts in North Carolina as well as with lodging properties in Florida. He was the past President of the South Carolina Hotel Sales and Marketing Association. Currently, he is a member of the American Marketing Association, the Travel Research Association, and the Academy of Marketing Science. He is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Society of Tourism and Travel Educators. He completed a book entitled "Sustainable Tourism and the Florida Environment: Marketing, Management and Operations", designed for secondary and college level audiences as well as public and private sector tourism related business.
Dr. Fredrick W. Bell
Wayne State University Dr. Frederick W. Bell is an authority on regional economic impact of economic activity. He has been a part of the BMRG, Inc. research for the past six years. Dr. Bell specializes in economic impact studies, and assists with the development of reports summarizing the impact of visitation upon local salaries, wages, and jobs.
He was Senior Regional Economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. He was also Chief of Economic Research for the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Department of Commerce. He has been a full professor of economics at Florida State University since 1973 where he has concentrated on environmental and resource economics in Florida. He has authored many publications dealing with tourism and outdoor recreational activity in the State of Florida including numerous contracts with the Department of Environmental Protection involving an assessment of the economics of outdoor recreation in Florida.
Dr. Bell has authored numerous Sea Grant publications ranging from the use of saltwater beaches to boating in the State of Florida. More recently, Dr. Bell has worked on the Northwest and Southeast Florida economic importance of artificial reefs, focusing upon the costs and benefits of the State of Florida's program. He also teaches business economics at FSU where the emphasis is upon running private enterprises, including attractions, lodging, food service, and travel businesses in an efficient manner.
Springs are one of the most valuable natural resources in the State of Florida. Even though Florida Springs have been providing Floridians and tourists with tremendous natural, recreational and economic values and benefits, little has been done to assess the economic importance springs have to their surrounding areas or to identify and analyze the visitors’ characteristics and behavior.
This study was set forth to assess the economic value springs contribute to their surrounding areas, and to document behavioral and demographic characteristics of visitors to Florida’s four largest springs. They are: Ichetucknee Springs, Wakulla Springs, Homosassa Springs, and Volusia Blue Spring.
The study is divided into six chapters. Chapters Two through Chapter Five address direct regional economic impact of each spring respectively. Each spring group was approached utilizing the four steps as follows:
Describe the economic profile of the areas surrounding each spring;
Estimate the direct economic impact of each spring.
Ichetucknee Springs is well known for tubing, kayaking, scuba diving and other recreational activities. The water is still in relatively good condition, but contaminants are beginning to appear. Consequently, it is restricted to only day use, and a maximum per day user capacity has been administered.
Wakulla Springs is one of the largest natural springs in the world. It is known for glass bottom boat tours through the natural spring area where the movies Tarzan and Creature from the Black Lagoon were filmed. It is also a popular place for swimming, snorkeling and observing wildlife. The spring suffers from an invasion of hydrilla, a floating plant that clog boat propellers and cause congestion of waterways. In addition, there are increasing levels of nitrate, phosphorous and other contaminants in the water.
Homosassa Springs is the only natural area in the world that one can observe manatees 365 days a year. It is also a place for other wildlife and marine fishes in the spring. Homosassa Springs has the best water quality among the four springs in this study’s group.
Blue Spring is well known as a winter home for Florida’s endangered manatees. The spring also provides recreationalists areas for swimming, canoeing, hiking and birding. The spring water contains the highest level of nitrates among the four springs and has led to ecological decline.
Annual Trends and Seasonal Use
From 1992-2002, the Ichetucknee Springs State Park visitors has increased from 134 thousand people to nearly 189 thousand people, nearly a 41% increase over the last 10 years. It is found that the peak season at Ichetucknee Springs State Park is between May and August of each year since the tubing is more enjoyable during the warm weather. This park has a carrying capacity that balances recreation with preservation.
The Wakulla Springs visitor attendance has increased from 163 thousand in 1992 to 184 thousand in 2002, an 11% increase over the last 11 years. By Florida standards, this is a very slow growth in attendance at only 1% yearly. The peak season at the Wakulla Springs State Park is from April to August when the weather is warm.
For Homosassa Springs State Park, there were over 200 thousand visitors in 1992 and nearly 266 thousand visitors in 2002, a 33% increase over the last 11 years. The seasonality of attendance is at its peak from February through April. This coincides with the typical tourist season for Florida when the typical snowbirds visit Florida.
The Blue Spring State Park attendance has decreased from 360 thousand in 1992 to 337 thousand in 2002, a 6.4% decline over the last 11 years. The decrease is consistent with the economic model, which asserts that increasing environmental problems are related to a decline in economic activity as measured by park attendance. The peak seasonal attendance at Blue Spring is December through March of each year. After that period, one other seasonal peak was identified in July.
Ichetucknee Springs is in Suwannee and Columbia Counties in North Central Florida. In 2000, the per capita income for both Columbia and Suwannee Counties was well below the State of Florida average. This is due to the fact that the Ichetucknee Springs area is not relatively affluent when compared to the State of Florida. Both counties specialize in low paying industries such as farming, forestry, paper and wood manufacturing and service industries. On the other hand, the Ichetucknee Springs economic area is growing at a faster rate as measured by wages and employment than that of the State of Florida.
Wakulla Springs is near the center of Wakulla County in the Northeast Florida panhandle region. From 1990 to 2000, the per capita income for Wakulla County was growing faster than the State of Florida (i.e., 58% vs. 40%). Even though the per capita income was still below the state average (i.e., $22,556 vs. $27,765) in 2000, Wakulla County is growing more toward higher paying jobs that are accelerating its rate of growth with respect to population, income, wages and employment.
Homosassa Springs is in Citrus County in the Central West area of Florida. From 1990 to 2000, the population growth in Citrus County was entirely due to in-migration from outside the county. The median age in Citrus County is nearly 53 years compared to only 39 years in the entire State of Florida. Citrus County’s economy is heavily dependent on retirement and tourism that generally produce an industrial base of part-time and low-skilled jobs. The per capita income in Citrus County was below the State of Florida average both in 1990 and 2000.
Blue Spring is located in Volusia County in the Central East region of Florida. Since 1990 the level of affluence or per capita income has risen in Volusia County. However, the level of per capita income in this county still remained below that of the State of Florida. As the state has grown through the advent of many high tech industries, Volusia County has relied on retirement and tourism for its growth.
Direct Economic Impacts
For 2002, estimated spending by visitors at the four springs-related state parks varied from nearly $23 million at Ichetucknee Springs to only $10 million at Blue Spring.
The Ichetucknee Springs and Wakulla Springs have approximately the same level of spending at about $22 million and have about the same total attendance. However, Ichetucknee Springs has about one-third more estimated visitors from outside the area than Wakulla Springs as shown in the bottom of Table ES-1.
Wakulla Springs visitors spend much more than those visiting Ichetucknee Springs, which accounted for the parity in overall spending between the two parks (e.g., spending per person day is $89 in Wakulla Springs compared to only $34 in Ichetucknee Springs). Wakulla Springs has a regionally acclaimed “low country” restaurant and a lodge that offers overnight accommodations for visitors.
Homosassa Springs and Blue Spring are at the low end of the total spending estimates with $13.6 million and $10 million respectively in 2002. These parks are more heavily attended by visitors from outside the area (county). The spending per visitor party and per person day is relatively low for these two parks.
Most of the visitors to natural springs use friends and family and hotel/motel as modes of accommodation.
In terms of wages and salaries, Ichetucknee Springs generated the most wages ($5.09 million) and Wakulla Springs generated most employment (347).
In general, springs exhibited visitors that have a party size of between 4-5 individuals whom spend about 2-3 days in the area as shown in the Table ES-1.