From Chapter 4, we found this same pattern for Citrus County. We interpreted this as a reflection of retirees moving to Citrus County. This is probably true in Volusia County where the participation rate is 10 percentage points below the state average. Further, there is no difference in the poverty rate when this county is compared to the state of Florida.
Finally, at the bottom of Figure 5.2, we have a breakdown in per capita income that may tell us a lot. It tells us that earnings from labor in Volusia County are much lower than the state average, which reflects the industrial structure of this county (i.e., lower paying jobs in the visitor and retirement sectors). Capital income per capita reflects the amount of interest, dividends and rents flowing to residents. This is below the state average indicating that retirees from out of state and those retiring from jobs in Volusia County are somewhat below state averages. Finally, transfer payments that include social security and retirement income are much higher in Volusia County where the average age is over 42 years of age compared to about 39 years for the State of Florida. How does Blue Spring fit into this economic pattern? With substantial growth in Volusia County, it makes the amazing static attendance in Blue Springs even more puzzling. Adding to this, the influx of tourists to this county should have the usual fraction that wish to take this opportunity to see the manatee population which gathers at Blue Spring during the peak of the tourist season in the first quarter of the year (i.e., January-March). We have no answers to this riddle, but will have to wait for further research.
Direct Economic Impact of Blue Springs: The Model
In Chapter 2 dealing with the economic importance of Ichetucknee Springs, we developed an economic model in which to calculate the spending; employment and wages generate by visitors coming from outside the area of economic impact. We wished to see how much economic activity and benefits are generated by the springs from having individuals visit the area (e.g., county) surrounding the park. The model is the same for all four springs considered in this report. The impact of visitors is based upon springs attendance and a sampling of the spending habits of those visitors to the spring in question. Spending or sales to these visitors are also broken down into kinds of good and services (i.e., industries) supported in the surrounding area by these purchases. The model or framework in which to develop these basic economic impact variables for the springs in question was extensively discussed in Chapter 2. We advise the reader to return to Chapter 2 if he/she has not read this previous chapter and is interested in greater detail. A reader not interested in the technical model may skip such sections and find the numbers reflecting the sales (i.e., expenditures); wages and employment and a breakdown of the kind of industries benefiting from such spending in Blue Spring State Park. It is the choice of the reader as to which way the results of our analyses may be absorbed.
Estimation of the Direct Economic Impact of Blue Spring
In the last part of 2002, a survey of attendees to Blue Spring State Park was conducted. The initial intent of the survey was first to determine what percentage of park attendance comes from outside Volusia County. The next step was to interview visitors from outside the immediate area of Volusia County in terms of size of party; length of stay during their trip and kinds of expenditures made during their visit to Blue Springs. This was the same method employed in Chapter 2 dealing with the economic impact of Ichetucknee Springs State Park. In total, 809 visitors were interviewed to get an economic profile to use in conjunction with attendance to obtain the total economic impact on Volusia County discussed in some detail above. Consider Table 5.3.
In fiscal year 2002, 337,356 individuals were attracted to Blue Spring State Park. From our sampling, it was estimated that about 65% of these individuals could be designated as from outside Volusia County. Thus, in Table 5.3, it is estimated that 219,282 visitors injected money into the local economy. These visitors were divided into five classifications based primarily on accommodation mode. One category was included for day visitors coming to the spring from outside the county. According to our sample, the two primary modes were (1) hotels and motels and (2) day visitors, constituting 84.5% of all visitors from outside Volusia County. In Table 5.3, we can see that among these categories there was not too much variation in party size running from 2.63 (Condominiums) to 3.36 (Day visitors). There was a large variance in length of stay as camper stayed in and around the park for nearly 14 days compared to only a little over 5 days for those using hotels and motels. Of course, day visitors by definition stay in the area for only one day.
Of interest, spending per party day varied from $142 for those using condominiums to only $17 per day for day visitors in Volusia County. As a group, visitors spent only about $61 per party day which is the lowest found among the four springs in this study. Not only does Blue Spring State Park raise questions as to the trend in attendance discussed above, but for some reason it has the lowest spending per attendees observed among our four spring-parks examined in this study. At the end of our economic analysis of the four springs in northern and central Florida, we shall compare the spending among the springs and how our study compares with other similar studies. This will be presented in Chapter 6.
The economic model used to estimate the economic impact of Blue Spring-related on Volusia County was described extensively in Chapter 2 dealing with Ichetucknee Springs. Table 5.3 contains the necessary information to estimate the economic impact defined as estimated spending; wages; and employment generated by visitor to Blue Spring State Park. Spending by visitors is a function of attendance; length of stay per visitor in the area and spending per individual per day. When these three factors are multiplied together it calculates the spending by any group or all visitors to the area under analysis. In addition, we must know what goods and service are bought by visitors to estimate visitor-related wages and employment. All these computations are implemented by the use of a fairly complicated spreadsheet analysis which can be made available to park researchers.
At the bottom of Table 5.3, the end result of these rather complicated computations are shown by accommodation mode plus day visitors. For the year 2002, it is estimated that the Blue Spring-related visitors spent $10 million in Volusia County. This is the lowest spending figure among our four springs under analysis in the report despite the fact that the total attendance for Blue Spring exceeds the other three springs. Much is due to the low percentage of attendees that live outside Volusia County coupled with the relatively low spending per person day as discussed above. Based upon the spending by good and services (e.g., shopping; restaurants; grocery stores, etc), it is estimated that this spending by visitors generated $2.38 million in salaries and wages and 174 full and par-time jobs. As discussed in earlier chapters, such jobs are largely part-time and low skilled based upon the kind of spending by visitors which is true throughout Florida where tourism is the number one industry in terms of employment and wages. Dividing wages by employment generated by visitors to Blue Spring, the annual wage rate of those working in the visitor sector averaged only $13,678 per year.
Table 5.4 shows the distribution of spending by all visitors based upon the overall spending pattern. Each visitor surveyed was asked to give their spending by the eight categories shown in Table 5.4. The four largest categories of spending in Table 5.4 are lodging ($5.67 million); evening entertainment ($1.26 million); shopping ($.95 million) and restaurants ($.94 million) or 88% of all spending by visitors to Blue Spring. These spending categories represent the benefactors of having Blue Spring State Park located in Volusia County.
What is the relative contribution of Blue Spring to the economy of Volusia County? In 2000, Volusia County generated $3.9 billion in wages and salary disbursements supporting over 155 thousands jobs. Obviously, Blue Spring State Park is not going to be a major industry in such a large economy. This economy is several times the size of the other three or four counties we have considered in conjunction with the other three springs discussed in Chapters 2-4. Blue Springs constitutes only .061% of wages and .11% of employment in Volusia County’s economy, which represents a relatively small contribution. Finally, the industries supported by Blue Spring is a rather low paid, averaging only $13,678 per year compared to $26,484 for Volusia County has a whole. This concludes our economic analysis for Blue Spring.
In the last chapter of this report, we shall compare and contrast the economic contribution of the four springs considered in Chapters 2-5. This will give us a composite of all four parks and form, if we assume these springs are reasonably representative of all springs in Florida, a general idea of the average economic contribution visitors to a springs-based park have upon rural economic development in an immediate surrounding area.