Earlier this summer, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings formed a Tourist Development Tax (TDT) Citizen Advisory Task Force to discuss community investments we should be making utilizing future, unallocated TDT revenues that meet current guidelines in Florida Statutes.

Visit Orlando presented to the Task Force sharing how we help bring in travelers, promote and enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors and drive bookings to the Orange County Convention Center and meeting hotels. We also shared how TDT is critical to promoting our regional brand, Unbelievably Real, and travel and tourism to our destination. As the destination’s marketing organization, Visit Orlando generates $33 in visitor spending for every $1 of TDT funds invested.

Over the past several weeks, the Task Force heard from various organizations interested in the potential uses and voted to recommend five projects: the Orange County Convention Center, Camping World Stadium, Kia Center, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and UCF’s proposed sports village. These recommendations were presented to the Tourist Development Council and will advance to the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, July 25.

These are all great projects that certainly will benefit our entire community, whether it's booking meetings and conventions or hosting concerts and sporting events.

There have also been discussions by the Task Force and recommendations that would require a change in the statute. These include requesting state legislators broaden the ability to impose a 1% Tourist Impact Tax, separate but similar to how TDT is levied, to be used for affordable housing needs and update the criteria analyzed for TDT funding requests to consider a project's contribution to the community, workforce needs and jobs.

Travel industry veteran Roger Dow—past president of the U.S. Travel Association and a Marriott executive for 34 years—is a Florida resident and has been closely watching the conversation around TDT.

He recently shared his observations with the Orlando Sentinel, noting “The rhetoric around expanding the usage beyond its original intent ignores the root of the problem, is shortsighted and dangerous to the future of Orange County’s tourism and tax revenue.”

He shares examples of the consequences of reduced funding in other destinations and the importance of fueling the economic engine that is tourism in our community. Read the full article here. Please consider sharing the article to your network.


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Register for Visit Orlando’s Insights Luncheon & General Session

Visit Orlando’s Insights Luncheon & General Session will take place on Thursday, August 24, at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. At this valuable event, we will offer fresh perspectives on influencing business, with updates on Visit Orlando initiatives and strategies for successfully managing cross-generational teams. If you’re interested in purchasing corporate tables, contact Kelly.Kinney@visitorlando.com for more details.

Osphere Grill, Sushi and Bar

Save the Date: Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Aug. 18-Oct. 1

Last week, we announced that Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining is returning from Aug. 18 to Oct. 1. This year, you can expect new restaurants and a brand-new tier system with venues offering menu selections for either $40 or $60. Through Visit Orlando, one dollar from each $40 menu and two dollars from each $60 menu will be donated to this year’s charity beneficiary, The Lifeboat Project, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness and supports victims of human trafficking. Please visit OrlandoMagicalDining.com to make reservations and explore the extensive menus.

Hotel Metrics

Metro Orlando occupancy for the week ending July 15 was 73.4%, up from last week’s 68.8% rate but down 3.6% from the same week last year. The Average Daily Rate was $175.49, down 1.9% from the same week last year.

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Across the Industry

Destinations International Annual Meeting: At Destinations International’s annual meeting, hundreds of travel and tourism professionals from destination organizations gathered to discuss the evolution of marketing and management. The annual meeting comprised various opportunities to network and attend learning and engaging courses, meetings, activities, summits and keynote sessions.

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Around the Destination

Team Site Visit: Our public relations and social media teams explored the newly renovated Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, along with the brand-new Ripley’s Mirror Maze, during a site visit this week. These in-person experiences help us gather content for Visit Orlando’s social channels and enhance first-hand knowledge for media pitching opportunities. If your attraction is interested in hosting the team, please email media@visitorlando.com.

Visit Orlando Engaged!

PCMA Southeast Chapter Meeting: The Southeast chapter of Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) hosted a two-day education and networking session at Doubletree by Hilton at SeaWorld. PCMA is a nonprofit, international association of professionals in the meetings industry that promotes professional convention management’s value. Visit Orlando’s senior legal counsel & VP of external affairs, Stan Rubins, participated in a panel discussing navigating the impacts of discriminatory legislation on site selection. Stan provided insights on recent headwinds and how Visit Orlando helps work one on one with meeting planners to address concerns.

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CFHLA Events: This week, Visit Orlando team members joined more than 200 industry professionals and community leaders during the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association's (CFHLA) annual "Tee-It-Up for Tourism" event at TopGolf. 

In addition, CFHLA also hosted its Vacation Ownership Council meeting. The council comprises resort operators and professionals to discuss vacation ownership related issues. Visit Orlando's market research & insights senior analyst, Robert Leavitt, shared industry findings with the council, including a 2022 end-of-year recap and current state of the industry update, along with forecasts through 2024.

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EsportsTravel Summit: Visit Orlando team members, in partnership with the Greater Orlando Sports Commission and the Orange County Convention Center, traveled to Toronto for the EsportsTravel Summit. It’s the world’s largest gathering of eSports tournament and video-game event organizers and the only event focused on the travel side of the eSports industry. The Orlando team met with tech professionals, including Activision Blizzard, Riot Games and Twitch, and learned more about the eSports world from an event-hosting perspective. Attending these events help educate us on how to solidify opportunities and engage with Orlando’s gaming communities.

Casandra Matej's photo and signature for Tourism Matters