At the start of every year, I often wish for a crystal ball to see into the future. As your Visit Orlando team charges ahead on executing our 2024 plans, we are fortunate to have the next best thing—research and insights.
We often refer to our research and insights team as the brain of our organization. The brain directs the planning and execution of the entire body’s movements. For us that means every move we make is well thought out and grounded in research.
Through research, Visit Orlando is strategic and efficient in our sales and marketing efforts with the ultimate goal to grow global travel to Orlando for economic and community benefit.
Looking ahead through the first quarter, our data shows a strong start to the year. Orlando's travel performance is trending up in comparison to last year. Currently, booked room nights are pacing ahead of 2023 by 5%, with both leisure and business travel segments looking healthy.
Airline service to the Orlando area continues to grow with domestic and international service contributing to the increase. Direct seat capacity for the first quarter is up by 11% compared to the same time in 2023. In addition, advanced airline ticket sales into Orlando for the first quarter are pacing 10% ahead of the same time last year.
Events at the Orange County Convention Center are also proving strong this month, projecting more than 140,000 attendees in January with headline events like the North American Veterinary Community’s VMX 2024 and the PGA Show 2024.
As a destination, we are fortunate to have many new and exciting developments opening this year. Now available on Visit Orlando’s consumer blog is a new post sharing 24+ New Reasons to Visit Orlando in 2024. The blog introduces fresh additions in Orlando, including attractions at our theme parks and beyond, new and upgraded places to stay, highly anticipated restaurants and more.
We have a lot to look forward to in 2024, and I thank you for your partnership and support as we embrace another year where we invite the world to experience our Unbelievably Real destination.
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Tourism Matters Newsletter (visitorlando.com)
Unbelievably Real Merchandise Now Available
Visit Orlando's "Unbelievably Real" brand merchandise is now for sale at the Discover Downtown™ Visitor Center through a new collaboration with Downtown Orlando. You can find a mural-themed tumbler, notecards, luggage tags and more. The center is open from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., near the corner of Orange Avenue and Church Street. Additionally, an online shopping portal is also available.
Metro Orlando occupancy for the week ending December 30, 2023, was 76.4%, up sharply from last week’s 59.3%, but down 3.5% from the same week last year. The Average Daily Rate for the week was $245.84, up from $186 the prior week but down 4.9% from the same week last year.
Across the Industry
U.S. To Expand Visa Interview Waiver Authority in 2024: The Biden Administration recently announced the extension of waiving in-person interviews for specific nonimmigrant visa categories, making it easier for travelers trying to visit the U.S. in 2024. According to U.S. Travel Association's President & CEO Geoff Freeman, by extending the visa waiver authority, the Biden administration prevented a loss of 64 million visitors and $215 billion in spending over the next 10 years. Also, in 2024, the U.S. is expected to retain an additional 2.2 million visitors and $5.9 billion in traveler spending that would have been lost without this extension. Read more here.
Public Survey: The Department of State recently distributed a Florida Museum of Black History Task Force Public Survey. The survey was created to gather stakeholder input on the proposed Florida Museum of Black History. Please consider taking it before it closes on Feb. 29.
Around the Destination
Community Service Opportunity: On Monday, Jan. 15, a unique MLK Day of Service event will take place at the Orange County Convention Center in partnership with U.S. Hunger, the Orange County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Initiative and the City of Orlando Mayor's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. The goal is to unite and package one million nutritious meals supporting local families in Central Florida. To participate, register here.
Terry Prather Speaks at UCF Commencement: Visit Orlando’s Board Chair Terry Prather recently had the honor of speaking during UCF’s Fall 2023 commencement. More than 6,000 degrees were awarded last semester to graduates entering careers, including our very own travel and tourism industry. Way to go, Terry, and job well done to all grads! View the commencement speech here.
Visit Orlando Board Member Recognized: Congratulations to Gerald Hector, Senior VP of Administration and Finance at UCF, for receiving the Magic Diversity Game Changers honor by the Orlando Magic on Dec.29. The recognition honors local leaders who have made a difference in the realm of social justice and equality and for committing their lives to making Orlando a better place.
Kia Center: Over the holiday break, the Amway Center took on the new name of the Kia Center.! The new partnership includes new signage, incorporation of EV charging stations, Kia vehicle displays and a hospitality lounge named the Kia Terrace. Learn more here.
In the News
Prevue Meetings & Incentives: Orlando for incentives: the story might surprise you