Summer travel is usually associated with leisure vacation, especially for Orlando. This summer, meetings and conventions are proving strong, with several conventions reporting increased attendance. Currently, the Amateur Athletic Union‘s (AAU) 50th Girls’ and Boys’ Junior National Volleyball Championships are taking place at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) from June 14 to July 4. This is the world’s largest volleyball tournament.

Across 21 days, the event is expected to bring in approximately $256.7 million in economic impact to Central Florida, with an estimated 200,000 attendees.

Locally, there continues to be a misperception that virtual and hybrid meetings are taking over in-person events. While this certainly was the case in 2020, three years later I can tell you that meetings are back and growing! According to our research, June is anticipated to bring more than 300,000 in citywide attendance for the area. And from June to August, advance hotel booking pace for the group segment is ahead of the same time last year by 15%.

This year, the North American Veterinary’s VMX and the DECA International Career Development Conference both experienced record attendance. Others, such as InfoComm and Coverings, almost doubled attendance from the year prior. And Premier Beauty was up 20%–the second-best attendance ever for the show.

When large groups host their meetings, events and conventions in Orlando, not only does it support business to the OCCC and area hotels, but to the many local businesses, restaurants and attractions throughout Central Florida.

While these numbers are strong, we continue to face increased nationwide competition, with 14 convention centers up for construction expansions. Supporting the OCCC’s construction completion project is paramount to sustaining a competitive edge when attracting meetings and conventions, maintaining the lead as America’s most visited destination and keeping our rank as the No. 1 meetings destination in the United States.


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The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes fireworks at Grande Lakes Orlando

AAA Predicts Record-Breaking Holiday Travel Numbers

According to AAA, more than 2.8 million Floridians will take at least one trip of 50 miles or more between Friday, June 30 and Tuesday, July 4. Nationally, 50.7 million people—a 4.3% increase from last year, are expected to travel. Access the full article here. In Orlando, we anticipate a busy holiday weekend for our destination. The July 4th holiday weekend is currently on par with 2022 and only about 5% behind 2019 levels in terms of booking pace.

As we approach the celebration of Independence Day, let’s all take some time to reflect on the values that bind us and remember those who served our country with courage and sacrifice to safeguard the freedoms we hold dear. On behalf of the entire Visit Orlando team, I extend warm wishes to all of you and your loved ones on this 4th of July. May it be a day filled with joy, laughter and gratitude.

TV Co-Host Alan Tacher comes to Orlando

We are continuing our multicultural custom content video series by partnering with Univision on several national and local broadcast integrations for the popular Desperita America Spanish-speaking morning show. Filmed in late April, these video segments were hosted by popular TV co-host Alan Tacher capturing his “Unbelievably Real Family Vacation” in Orlando. Our multimedia campaign aims to engage U.S. Hispanic audiences in our primary out-of-state markets through a paid media initiative. Throughout the year, we will promote this campaign using various channels, including television, radio, digital platforms and social media.

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Orlando is Full of Pride

Recently, some of our team members ventured across the destination to explore and highlight Orlando attractions and share personal stories on the importance of celebrating Pride Month and Orlando’s LGBTQ+ community. View the video here.

Hotel Metrics

Metro Orlando occupancy for the week ending June 24, was 74.4%, slightly down from last week’s 74.7%, and above state and national levels. The Average Daily Rate for the week was $192.94, which was up 3.8% from the same week last year.

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Across the Industry

Brightline Construction Completion: I’m excited to share that Brightline recently announced they completed construction in Orlando. This paves the way for our residents and travelers in Central Florida to have a new and accommodating method of transportation to our South Florida neighbors this summer. Read more here.

Around the Destination

TDT Advisory Task Force: Earlier this week, Orange County’s Tourist Development Tax (TDT) Advisory Task Force discussed proposed community projects seeking future, unallocated TDT revenue and voted to advance projects surrounding the Orange County Convention Center, Camping World Stadium, Kia Center, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and UCF’s sports village. You can view the full survey results here. These recommendations will be presented to the Tourist Development Council on July 18 and the Board of County Commissioners on July 25.

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Visa Wait Times: Visit Orlando team members met with the U.S. Department of State’s director, visa office - field operations in the bureau of consular affairs, Brian McInerney, and U.S. diplomat and foreign service officer, Natasha Ghent-Rodriguez, to discuss long visa wait times, a primary cause for international travelers being discouraged from traveling to Orange County.
  
In 2019, 43% of international visitors visited from countries that require a visa to enter the U.S. We hope that the U.S. Department of State sets a 21-day average goal for visa wait times and codifies existing authority to waive in-person interviews for low-risk visa renewals and provides additional resources to consulates with high wait time. Visit Orlando’s senior corporate counsel & VP of external affairs, Stan Rubins, along with Natasha Ghent-Rodriguez will join the travel industry sales committee in Q3 to discuss plans to address these concerns. 
 
World Travel Awards: In a couple weeks, the World Travel Awards’ voting poll will close. Visit Orlando and our beautiful city has been nominated in several categories for achieving excellence within the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. They include North America's Leading City Break Destination 2023 (Orlando, FL), Leading City Destination 2023 (Orlando, FL) and Leading Tourist Board 2023 (Visit Orlando).

Visit Orlando Engaged!

Industry Insights Forum: Visit Orlando’s membership team hosted an Industry Insights Forum for members to gain insight into current & upcoming trends in the restaurant industry, engage in meaningful dialogue related to the travel and tourism industry and foster business relationships with other Central Florida businesses. Visit Orlando’s director of market research & insights, Maria Henson, shared the latest information surrounding the state of the industry.

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Cirque du Soleil Tour: Visit Orlando’s destination experience team members attended a behind-the-scenes tour of Drawn to Life Presented by Cirque du Soleil and Disney. The team members explored various departments and learned about production techniques, including how actors appear from underneath the stage.

Casandra Matej's photo and signature for Tourism Matters