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Tourism industry booming in DeSoto County

Posted at 10:22 PM, Jun 05, 2024

ARCADIA, Fla. — Tourism is making its mark in DeSoto County.

Arcadia Community Correspondent Victoria Scott reached out to one of her contacts to get a first-hand look at what's causing the uptick in the industry.

DeSoto County Economic Development Director Sondra Guffey told Scott there's more than one reason behind it.

"One, we are a very attractive place to be because we have beautiful nature like you see here," Guffey said. "We have available hotels, motels, RVs, campgrounds, and Airbnbs."

She also said the county increased its marketing efforts.

Prices in DeSoto County are more affordable, too.

"Our prices are attractive compared to the neighboring counties," Guffey said.

Local attractions are drawing people to the area as well.

"The rodeo attracts thousands of people," Guffey said. "Arcadia Main Street in Downtown has things like Bike Fest, and fairs, and all kinds of events that are bringing people in."

Jungle Doria's Wildlife Park at Peace River Charters in Arcadia is also popular. It opened last fall.

“We thought just starting something small like a pet store, but ended up deciding we wanted to do a small wildlife park," said Director Krystalynn Doria.

Doria told Scott a majority of the customers are tourists.

"A lot of our guests have been from out-of-state – not even local," she said. "We've had a decent amount of bikers stop by, too. Some of those have been out of the country, which I've been surprised with."

Visitors can go inside some of the cages and interact with animals.

"Back to the education side of things, growing up, I know Clay and I had a lot of really cool animal experiences," Doria said. "If you get to go inside with a lemur, you get to learn about them."

The wildlife park may be small, but it has some big goals.