With hurricane season approaching June 1, it’s not too early to prioritize emergency preparedness.

In Orange County, our businesses and local agencies have a strong track record of collaboration, ensuring a high level of advance preparedness for severe storms. Our inland location often makes Orlando an evacuation destination for those located along the coast.

Visit Orlando works closely with the Orange County Office of Emergency Management and other community partners before, during and after a storm or other crisis that might impact travel to our destination. Our team helps ensure that the accurate status of our destination is communicated to key audiences. In addition, we closely monitor hotel occupancy in partnership with our member properties to provide status updates on availability for evacuees from coastal regions.

To kickstart your preparedness efforts, access Orange County Government’s Hurricane Safety Guide providing essential details for storm planning.

If you are a Visit Orlando member, be sure to email our member relations team at MemberRelations@visitorlando.com to update your emergency contact information.

Additionally, you can stay prepared by committing to the following:

  • Assemble an emergency kit that includes important legal documents, like insurance policies.
     
  • Organize a list of proper supplies, such as flashlights, batteries, and portable radios.
     
  • Create a business continuity plan incorporating risks, potential impact, preparedness and response actions, roles and responsibilities, communications, testing and training practices.
     
  • Keep a list of Orange County emergency shelters, including general population, special needs and pet-friendly shelters.
     
  • Sign up for OCAlert.net to receive critical emergency information quickly in a variety of situations, such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods.

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Visit Orlando’s public relations team host media at Hamburger Mary’s.

Orlando Praised by LGBTQ+ Media Outlets

Visit Orlando continues to receive positive media coverage following an inaugural Global LGBTQ+ group press trip last October, where 11 lifestyle and travel journalists and influencers from the US, UK, Canada, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico joined us during the Come Out With Pride celebration. The group was immersed in Orlando's diverse attractions, leaving them convinced of our destination’s inclusive and welcoming spirit.

The press trips generated 359 social media posts with a reach of 1.4 million, highlighted by influencers, including @klebiodamas (1.3M)@caros1 (860k) and @chapugarza (212k). Editorial features followed in The Globe & MailDallas VoiceGay TimesIN Magazine and He Said Dallas, with quotes like, “Orlando is a place I consider the model of doing it right,” from the Dallas Voice. Top Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail shared, “I find that Orlando is just as its Pride slogan describes – Stronger than ever.”

In 2024, Visit Orlando continues to engage media to further the destination’s message of inclusivity to drive visitation, including hosting influencers like @rosieturnerdaily, who shared her experiences at various local spots, including an impactful stop at the Pulse Memorial, and OUT Magazine coming this June.

Restaurant Applications Now Open for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining

Every fall, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining invites residents and travelers to experience Orlando’s dining scene with three-course, prix-fixe dinners at many of our destination’s best restaurants. The two-tiered program includes a charitable component where $1 from every $40 meal and $2 from every $60 meal served support one or more local nonprofits. If you’re interested in attracting new patrons to your restaurant and helping support local nonprofits, please sign up. Application and program requirements are now accessible online and must be received by May 24.

Data & Trends

Metro Orlando's hotel occupancy rate for the week ending April 20, 2024, was 71.9% which was down -9.3% from the same week last year. The average daily rate for the week was $218.26, up +0.9% from the same week last year. Room night demand trailed prior year by -8.3%.

Across the Industry

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Florida Black History Museum Update: A state-appointed selection task force, chaired by Senator Geraldine Thompson, was created to determine a city for the future home of the Florida Museum of Black History. In partnership with Orange County Government, Orange County Public Schools, Orlando Economic Partnership, Visit Orlando and other local organizations, the Historic Town of Eatonville is one of three finalists.  
 
Through two rounds of scoring by the task force, Eatonville has significantly closed the gap with St. Johns County. The final decision will be made following an upcoming Florida A&M University site visit. Senator Geraldine Thompson noted that public opinion should carry equal weight to that of task force members or stakeholders and that the Florida Black Museum Public Survey received over 500 responses mentioning Orange County or Orlando to be the home of the museum, surpassing all other locations. 
 
The task force must submit its recommendations to the governor, House and Senate by July 1. We’re excitedly waiting for the next steps in this process. 
 
The team that has worked to secure the museum include: Town of Eatonville Chief Administrative Officer Demetris Pressley, CRA Executive Director Shaniqua “Shan” Rose, and Public Works Director Valerie W. Mundy; Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings and Chief of Staff Roseann Harrington; Visit Orlando Board Chair Terry W. Prather as well as team members Danielle Hollander, Chris Neas, Nate Shelton and Ranae Ledebuhr; Director, Economic Development Derek Ephrem of Orlando Economic Partnership; United Arts of Central Florida President & CEO Jennifer Evins; MDXS Owner & Creative Director Dan Picard; Carolyn Fennell, former senior vice president of public affairs and community relations, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority; and Tim Baker, principal in charge, Baker Barrios.

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GOAA Achievement: The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) is now a Certified Autism Center™. The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) awarded the designation to GOAA, highlighting their dedication to accessibility and a responsibility to better understand and assist autistic or sensory-sensitive individuals as they travel. GOAA’s staff completed the training, and IBCCES conducted an on-site review to provide a roadmap for future accommodations or support for travelers. Read more here.

Around the Destination

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Members of Visit Orlando and Orlando Economic Partnership celebrate the Golden Brick Award.

Downtown Orlando Partnership's Golden Brick Awards: This week, Downtown Orlando Partnership hosted its Golden Brick Awards to celebrate the people, projects and initiatives propelling the City Beautiful forward. In collaboration with the City of Orlando and Orange County Government, Visit Orlando and the Orlando Economic Partnership received a Golden Brick award for the #407Day “Unbelievably Real” mural project. Additionally, President & CEO at Greater Orlando Sports Commission Jason Siegel was recognized as Downtowner of the Year for his dedication to promoting and advancing downtown Orlando. Congratulations to all the nominees and finalists!

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L to R: Robert Agrusa, Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association; Visit Orlando Board Chair Terry Prather; and Visit Orlando President & CEO Casandra Matej

Boy Scout Golden Eagle Dinner: The Metro Orlando Boy Scouts of America honored Terry Prather, chair of Visit Orlando and Dr. Phillips Charities, at its Golden Eagle Dinner for his outstanding work within our local community. Carolyn Fennell, retired senior director of public affairs & community relations at Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, was honored with the Whitney Young Service Award, and Baker Barrios Architects received the corporate honoree award. Congratulations to all honorees on this wonderful achievement.

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Image 1: Alex Erdmann, Valencia College and Visit Orlando‘s Kristin Westover. Image 2: University of Central Florida’s Fred Kittinger, Dr. Alexander Cartwright and Bridget Keefe with Kristin Westover. 

Grand Buffet: Valencia College hosted its annual Grand Buffet, spotlighting its impressive culinary program. This event enables talented students to demonstrate their unique cooking skills across various food selections. Additionally, the Grand Buffet offers real-world experiences essential for advancing in the culinary industry.

Visit Orlando Engaged!

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Image 1: L to R: Megan de Barril, Hyatt Regency Orlando; Visit Orlando’s Vickie Keliher and Casandra Matej; and Mark Tester, Orange County Convention Center. Image 2: L to R: Michelle Mason, American Society of Association Executives and Casandra Matej. 

ASAE Annual Meeting: This week, we had the opportunity to present Orlando as a meeting destination for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Annual Meeting for 2031. This will be a huge opportunity for us to host association executives and meeting professionals from around the country to showcase all that our destination offers meetings and conventions. ASAE will make a decision in May with a public announcement in August at this year’s ASAE Meeting in Cleveland.

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Visit Orlando’s Laura Kreutzer represents the organization at Cruise Planners’ Boot Camp. 

Cruise Planners Conference: Visit Orlando attended the biannual Cruise Planners Boot Camp held in Orlando April 21-22. This event provides an opportunity to meet with Cruise Planner franchise partners and owners from across the United States. Through interactive one-on-one appointments and networking events, Visit Orlando and member partners met with over 165 travel professionals to share more information on Orlando for future sales.

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Members of Visit Orlando attend a performance of “From Here” at The Renaissance Theatre Company. 

Local Show Headed to Off-Broadway: Visit Orlando team members attended a performance of “From Here” at The Renaissance Theatre Company ahead of its upcoming leap to Off-Broadway. "From Here" depicts Orlando during 2016, both before and after the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. The show will run Off-Broadway from June 28 to August 11, 2024, at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center in NYC. You can see it in Orlando through May 5. Find more information and tickets here.

In the News

AAA:
 What to do in Orlando with 48 hours

Forbes: Disney World earns its first Michelin star

Skift Meetings: Orlando unveils plans for new sports and entertainment district

Budget Travel: Visit these cities in 2024 for flavorful culinary experiences

tourism matters - tm - Casandra Matej - signature - at your service - 2023