As we usher in February, our community is filled with events and activities to celebrate Black History Month. From limited-time exhibitions and live performances to an assortment of year-round attractions and black-owned businesses, locals and visitors have many opportunities to experience the inspiring and rich contributions of Central Florida’s diverse African American community.

Your Visit Orlando team has several initiatives underway to share this message more broadly and inspire visitors to engage, whether it is in February or year-round. Our Heritage & Heart: Orlando Celebrates Black History In February and All Year Long blog provides a comprehensive outline of events and activities, including an interactive map.

We partnered with iHeart media to sponsor segments where on-air hosts discuss what Black History Month means to them and encourage listeners to explore Orlando’s rich Black history and culture. The segments will air in New York, Atlanta and Chicago and serves as our Orlando For All annual campaign kickoff. Click here to listen.

Also, coming soon on our social media channels, to promote our local experiences, we filmed Orlando Magic’s Bo Outlaw as he explored Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture with Visit Orlando team members. The video will be shown on Visit Orlando’s YouTube, Facebook and Instagram channels.

With so much to discover about Orlando’s rich African American heritage, history and cultural influences, your Visit Orlando team will continue to promote throughout the year our neighborhoods’ Black-owned restaurants and permanent galleries and museums, like the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts in Eatonville and so much more to help more visitors learn more about the diversity of our region.


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Ultimate Sports Weekend

Orlando is set for a major sports weekend, hosting the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon in downtown Orlando on Feb. 3 beginning and the NFL Pro Bowl Games at Camping World Stadium on Feb. 4. Be sure to plan ahead since there will be several planned road closures and multiple spectator viewing areas.

Visit Orlando is promoting these events with organic and paid social posts and online advertising, targeting fans to turn a game day into a multi-day stay. We’re also hosting an activation at the Olympic Marathon Trial Fan Fest including an interactive game with prizes and a selfie photo backdrop. With so much happening in downtown Orlando, it’s the perfect time to stop by the Discover Downtown™ Visitor Center gift shop and pick up some Visit Orlando “Unbelievably Real” brand merchandise.  

Hotel Metrics

Metro Orlando’s hotel occupancy rate for the week ending January 27, 2024, was 77.9%, up from the prior week’s 67.5% rate and up 2.9% from the same week last year. The Average Daily Rate (ADR) for the week was $208.43, up from $197 the prior week and up 5.1% from the same week last year. Demand surpassed the previous year by 3.8%.

As anticipated, Orlando hotels performed strongly thanks to a busy week at the Orange County Convention Center with three large events (Sherwin Williams National Sales Meeting, PGA Show, and FETC Annual Meeting). Orlando ranked 5th among the top 25 domestic markets for occupancy rate for the week.

Across the Industry

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Board Leadership Symposium: Last week, Visit Orlando President & CEO Casandra Matej, Chair Terry Prather and Chair-Elect Barbara Bowden attended Destination International's Board Leadership Symposium, a 2-day event specifically for Destination Management Organization CEOs and Board leadership to explore and examine the challenges ahead and identify potential solutions to ensure that the Board is ready to address these issues head-on. During the event, Visit Orlando took part in a panel discussion focused on community relationship building and how it is important to have board participation year-round.

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Pictured L to R: Manuel Gomez Navarro, AVIAREPS Spain Tourism Sales and Client Management Executive; Elaine Blazys, Visit Orlando Vice President of Travel Industry Sales; DT Minich, Experience Kissimmee President/CEO; and Yinglu Tian, Experience Kissimmee Senior Director of International & Domestic Sales. 

FITUR 2024: In partnership with Experience Kissimmee and Walt Disney World, Visit Orlando participated in FITUR 2024, the global meeting point for tourism professionals and the leading trade show for inbound/outbound markets in Ibero-America. It was a busy week with one-on-one appointments and a hosted client event with trade operators, trade media, retail agencies and airlines to assess and further develop outbound potential from Spain to Orlando. FITUR 2024 had record-breaking attendance of over 150,000 attendees, making this a great opportunity to showcase Orlando to untapped markets with a new lift beginning in June with Iberojet Airlines. 

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BrandUSA India: Visit Orlando Travel Industry Sales team participated in Brand USA's Trade Mission to Goa, India. As one of the world's fastest growing economies, including a rapid expansion of India's middle class with an increase in disposable income, India has seen a surge in outbound travel exceeding 2019. This mission connected Visit Orlando with key travel trade players over a three-day series of appointments that educated and increased awareness about Orlando to drive future visitation.

Around the Destination

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Pictured L to R: Stan Rubins, Visit Orlando Senior Counsel; Commissioner Emily Bonilla, District 5; Commissioner Nicole H. Wilson, District 1; Jerry L. Demings, Orange County Mayor; Commissioner Mayra Uribe, District 3; Commissioner Michael “Mike” Scott, District 6; Heather Fagan, Mayor Dyer’s Chief of Staff; and Jason Siegel, GO Sports President & Chief Executive Officer

Judson's Live Grand Opening: The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts officially opened their new music venue, Judson’s Live. This intimate and elevated space seats approximately 140 people and will present music of all genres. The venue is named after Judson Green, the late jazz musician and former Dr. Phillips Center board member. Visit Orlando joined representatives from Orange County government, City of Orlando and Greater Orlando Sports for the official ribbon cutting event this week.

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James Beard Semifinalists: Congratulations to the Orlando restaurants and chefs named 2024 James Beard Award semifinalists! We are proud to have these talented chefs and restaurants call Orlando home. The James Beard Foundation awards, sometimes known as the “Oscars of food,” are among the nation’s most prestigious culinary honors. It recognizes eateries and chefs who create exceptional food, food media content and better food systems. The semifinalists include:

  • Kaya, Orlando — Best New Restaurant
  • Henry Moso, Kabooki Sushi, Orlando — Best Chef South
  • Jennifer Berdin and Mark Berdin, Kadence, Orlando — Best Chef South

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Pictured L to R: Michael Brown, Travel and Leisure and guest; John De Armas, Visit Orlando Board Member and guest; Casandra Matej, Visit Orlando CEO with Chris Matej and Terry Shaw, Advent Health CEO

Mozart Dinner: Opera Orlando presented The Mozart Dinner-Mozart and Mariachis on the MainStage of Steinmetz Hall this week. Performances included Mozartean opera singers and musicians in an elegant candlelight dinner setting. Visit Orlando was honored to attend this performance, one of three special events Opera Orlando is hosting for its “All for Art” 2023-2024 season. Visit Opera Orlando for more upcoming special events.

Visit Orlando Engaged!

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Sustainability Strategy: Visit Orlando partnered with Maritz, a professional services company specializing in experience design, utilizing behavioral science to solve business challenges, to facilitate the development of an organizational sustainability strategy. Earlier this week, team members took part in a two-day workshop to better understand what it means to be sustainable, and the value sustainability brings to the organization and our community. The team engaged in collaborative exercises, brainstorming sessions, and toured 4Roots Farm Campus to learn more about how they are investing in a healthy, thriving, sustainable food system.  

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Member Power Lunch: Visit Orlando’s membership team hosted its first Power Lunch of 2024 selling out the event with over 100 attendees. Visit Orlando's Chief Sales Officer Mike Waterman provided an update on city-wide sales, business development efforts, strategic partnerships and destination services. Membership has many benefits, so check out Visit Orlando's membership page to learn more.

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Dr. Phillips Collaboration: The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts team hosted a bi-annual partnership meeting with Visit Orlando to discuss accomplishments and collaboration opportunities for 2024. The team enjoyed a behind-the-scenes look at the all-new Judson’s Live venue. The Joyce & Judson Green Room, referred to as ‘Judson’s Live’, is an intimate music space set to open Tuesday, February 6, 2024, with a month of diverse programming that will create another stunning space for live entertainment in Central Florida.

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Starstuff Travel: Visit Orlando had the opportunity to present to a group of travel advisors from Starstuff Travel during their annual travel advisors meeting here in Orlando. While based in New Jersey, Starstuff Travel has travel advisors nationwide specializing in family travel. Orlando is consistently their top-producing market, with an annual revenue of $8 Million. The event allowed Visit Orlando to provide the latest updates on the destination and ways to stay engaged through our Orlando Travel Academy, an online educational tool for travel advisors.

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Brazil Night: Our public relations team hosted four local influencers at the Orlando Magic Brazil Night game on Monday, Jan. 22, to showcase Orlando as a sports destination for our visitors. The influencers will promote this game and other sports events in Orlando on their social media channels, educating and inspiring future travelers to Orlando.

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Regional Broadcast TV: The public relations team worked with travel expert and reporter Dayvee Sutton on a dedicated TV segment sharing what’s new in Orlando for 2024. The segment focused on the destination’s unique experiences, ranging from the new Evermore Resort, including the Conrad Orlando, to outdoor adventures, award-winning and diverse dining, theme parks and attractions. The segment has aired in news programs in 10 key domestic markets, including Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Houston, Baltimore, Tampa and Jacksonville.

In the News

WMFE.com: Athletes will race for a spot on Team USA at the Olympic Trials Marathon in Orlando

USA Today: Universal Orlando Resort reveals first details on highly anticipated Epic Universe

Tripadvisor: Things to do in Orlando besides theme parks

Orlando Sentinel: SeaWorld corporate parent takes new name: United Parks & Resorts

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