This week, the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) held a work session focused on Visit Orlando, as part of recent discussions around the usage of Tourist Development Tax (TDT) funds. Orange County government designates TDT funds for specific purposes, including promoting tourism, the Orange County Convention Center, sports stadiums and arenas, performing arts venues, museums and events.
In 2019, the BCC voted to increase Visit Orlando’s funding from 23% of TDT to the current 30%. To put that into perspective, according to data collected by Destinations International, 75% of Destination Marketing Organizations like Visit Orlando receive more than 30% of a city occupancy tax as part of their annual budget.
Alongside our Board Chair Terry Prather, I had the privilege of presenting Visit Orlando's extensive efforts to market and sell our destination for economic and community benefit.
- We shared new research that shows Visit Orlando’s work generates a strong return on investment for our community. Data from Tourism Economics, a division of Oxford Economics, found that in 2022 Visit Orlando generated $33 in visitor spending for every $1 of TDT funds invested in the organization.
- We spoke about the increased competition facing our destination with the world now fully open. As the top destination in the country, Orlando doesn't just compete with other cities, we're up against states, regions and even countries that are heavily investing in tourism promotion.
- As an organization committed to transparency, we outlined our budget process and three-year financial plan.
- And, because our amazing team drives Visit Orlando's success, I was so proud to have team members explain the complexity of our organization and the hard work they do every day for our community. Please watch and share this video to learn more: Visit Orlando Team Member Testimonial.
Thank you to so many community leaders, partners and staff that attended or spoke during the meeting on the essential role of Visit Orlando, including: 4Roots, African American Chamber of Commerce, American Pet Products Association, Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Assocation, Destinations Florida, Downtown Orlando Partnership, Greater Orlando Sports Commission, Hilton Orlando, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando, ICON Park, International Drive Resort Area Chamber of Commerce, Knife & Spoon, Orlando City Soccer Club, Orlando Economic Partnership, The Pride Chamber, Rosen Hotels & Resorts and United Arts of Central Florida, Inc.
To have strong support from such a diverse cross section of Orange County organizations and leaders made a powerful statement on the impact of Visit Orlando and the travel and tourism industry, not to mention tremendously meaningful to the Visit Orlando team.
If you missed the discussion, you can view the recording here: BCC Meeting: November 14, 2023. It serves as a helpful resource to understand the discussion around Visit Orlando’s funding. At this time, no decisions have been made. The Visit Orlando portion begins with Orange County explaining our agreement at Agenda Item 10.
As we look forward to continued dialogue, your Visit Orlando team will remain focused on our mission to inspire, promote and grow global travel to Orlando for economic and community benefit.
Stay informed with Visit Orlando news and the latest destination updates by signing up for Tourism Matters, Visit Orlando's President & CEO's weekly newsletter.
Tourism Matters Newsletter (visitorlando.com)
Unbelievably Real Mural Now at the Florida Mall
Visit Orlando partnered with The Florida Mall to unveil our Unbelievably Real mural kicking off the busy holiday shopping season. Located at the mall's main entrance, the mural is an eye-catching photo backdrop and fun selfie station for shoppers. This collaboration gives us another opportunity to highlight the different aspects that make Orlando so unique. With this mural installation, Orlando gains another iconic location for visitors to stop by for the next two years, while also serving as a reminder for locals of all our destination has to offer.
As part of the unveiling, we partnered with The Florida Mall to host a sweepstakes giving away a three-night stay at The Florida Hotel and Conference Center, a $500 Simon AMEX gift card, four tickets to Universal Orlando Resort and limousine services to and from the theme park. The promotion will run from Nov. 16 to Dec. 18. Click here for additional giveaway details and to learn more about the unveiling event.
Visit Orlando is embarking on an important assessment of how Orlando and Orange County score as a visitor destination, and we need your feedback. We have contracted MMGY NextFactor and Destinations International for their diagnostic tool, DestinationNEXT. The assessment is a benchmark survey of key tourism, business, education and government stakeholders impacted by Visit Orlando’s ability to attract and inspire visitors to our community.
The survey results will be used as a report card for our destination’s health and provide benchmarks we can measure against every year. We would like to hear from you, so access the survey by Friday, December 1, by clicking here.
Celebrate with Visit Orlando on Dec. 8
Today is the final day to purchase corporate tables at Visit Orlando's Year End Celebration Luncheon, which takes place Friday, December 8 at the Hilton Orlando. Contact Visit Orlando’s Member Recruitment Manager Kelly Kinney to book the few corporate tables that are still available!
This year’s celebration will highlight our destination’s successes and we will announce the donation from Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining program to The Lifeboat Project. Attendees will also hear Will Guidara, renowned restaurateur and the luncheon’s keynote speaker, inspire us with a message on "Unreasonable Hospitality," the power behind giving people more than they expect. We look forward to having you at this year’s celebration.
Metro Orlando occupancy for the week ending November 11, 2023, was 76.7%, up strongly from last week's 64.8% rate and up 3.9% from the same week last year. The Average Daily Rate for the week was $196.12, up from last week’s $176.68, but slightly down from the same week last year.
Visionary Awards: Visit Orlando and the destination won two major honors in Prevue Meetings & Incentives annual Visionary Awards. Prevue awarded Visit Orlando the Southeast region's best CVB/DMO meeting & incentive planner support and Orlando with the best large U.S. Destination for Meetings & Conventions (over 1 million population.) The Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World also won Best U.S. Golf & Spa Resort. Read all about the winners here.
Family Travel Awards: Orlando received the Kids' Choice award in Good Housekeeping's 2024 Best Family Travel Awards! The honor comes from our destination having many experiences that "fulfill kids’ ultimate fantasies.” Additional winners included Walt Disney World (Must-Do Disney Trip), Grande Lakes Orlando (Upscale Accommodations), Discovery Cove (Memorable Attraction), Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin (Fave Disney Hotel), Grande Lakes Orlando (Theme Park Respite) and Caribe Royale Orlando Resort (New Value-Priced Pick). Learn more here.
Around the Destination
Orlando as a Leading LGBTQ+ City: Congratulations to the City of Orlando for obtaining the highest score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index for the 10th consecutive year! This index evaluates various criteria, including non-discrimination laws, municipal employment policies, inclusivity of city services and leadership in equality-related matters, to determine a city’s score. To learn about the City of Orlando’s recent initiatives in establishing programs, ordinances and laws that benefit the LGBTQ+ community, click here.
$1 Million Public Art Challenge: The City of Orlando has been granted $1 million through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. The city plans to use the funding to implement a project by Juan William Chávez named “Art Pollination: Building Food Justice through Creativity.” The initiative focuses on food insecurity, engaging artists and farmers to develop art installations that raise awareness about the lack of access to healthy food. Read more here.
Support Orlando City Lions: We teamed up with Orlando City to offer you a special rate on tickets to the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs. After defeating Nashville, SC in round 1, your Lions will take on the Columbus Crew at Exploria Stadium on Saturday, November 25th at 5:30 p.m. Tickets with this special offer start at only $29 and can be purchased here: https://fevo.me/47x6xZ7. If you have any questions or want to buy a group of over 10, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Thanksgiving Initiatives: As we enter the holiday season, several projects are underway to support our community. This past weekend, District 6 City of Orlando Commissioner Bakari Burns and the He Got Up! organization hosted a Thanksgiving Food Drive, providing over 400 community members with meals. Watch the recap here. Additionally, Heart of Florida United Way hosted its Thanksgiving Project to pack meal kits that will feed 16,000 individuals in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. Read more here.
Holiday Toy Drive: The Orange County Mayor’s Holiday Toy Drive has returned, celebrating 13 years of giving back to the community. Residents are encouraged to participate by purchasing a gift online by Dec. 4, and businesses and community groups can support by creating an online team drive. Learn more and consider donating here.
Visit Orlando Engaged!
IAAPA Presentation: Visit Orlando’s VP of Communications Denise Spiegel participated in a panel discussion titled Harnessing the Power of PR to Elevate Your Brand, Boost Content and Drive Attendance during the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) 2023 expo. She shared her insights on how attractions can work with destination marketing organizations to drive public relations. Gatorland Theme Park’s Director of Marketing Julie Baross introduced the panel, which also included Arizona Boardwalk Director of Public Relations and Social Media Karin Korpowski-Gallo and Orlando Sentinel Senior Reporter Dewayne Bevil.
Colombian Press Trip: Our public relations team organized an immersive theme park and beyond press trip for four Colombian journalists to showcase our diverse range of attractions, including EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort, ICON Park and Gatorland. The trip helped secure future stories in top target publications, including El Pais and El Colombiano newspapers, Alo Magazine, Rolling Stones and Publimetro magazines.
MyCentralFloridaFamily: The Florida Mall holiday mural and Santa starts this week
Travelweek: Visit Orlando launches new campaign in Canada