As have all of you, we've also been pivoting in response to the evolving COVID-19 news and working to ensure our efforts support the most current, relevant needs of our local travel industry, businesses and residents.

Today I'd like to highlight just a few initiatives that we recently launched, along with new research detailing the impact to our local and national economies. 

We will continue to provide you the most topical insights and updates on a regular basis. However, as always, please don't hesitate to let us know if you have any particular areas where we could provide further information.

Visit Orlando In Action

#OrlandoToGo: Our special Orlando To Go campaign and webpage to support open restaurants now spotlights 263 locations (and growing) offering takeout and/or delivery. The campaign is off to a strong start, and we continue to promote its availability through our social media, publicity, community partners and online channels. So far, we've received a significant amount of publicity in local media, our social media followers are sharing their favorite restaurants and dishes under the hashtag #OrlandoToGo, and we have repuposed digital highway billboards to further reinforce the message. If you know any additional restaurants to be included, please send a note to our membership team.

Virtual Vacations: For travel lovers stuck at home, we’ve compiled a list of over 20 virtual thrills from the Theme Park Capital of the World®, including 360-degree online experiences, new Facebook Live broadcasts, live streaming of special films, and YouTube videos. We have secured publicity in many key media outlets, from Forbes to E! News online. Take a look at our media release and own virtual tour of the whole destination. We will continue to keep momentum rolling on this inititiave to ensure the Orlando brand stays top of mind in a relevant way.

Rescheduling Conventions: In conjunction with the Orange County Convention Center, our sales team has been working hard to reschedule groups that have been forced to cancel their conventions. Of 36 impacted groups, 16 are now meeting later this year; that represents an estimated economic impact of $378 million. Unfortunately, 18 groups have canceled altogether, meaning a loss of $507 million in economic impact. Meanwhile, we have received verbal commitments from four groups (combined attendance 157,705, economic impact $318 million) on contracts for future years. At the same time, another three conventions (121,500, economic impact $282 million) are considering dates between summer 2020 and December 2021. 

New Research

GDP Forecast: Historic Decline Followed by Record Growth: Goldman Sachs has revised its view for how the coronavirus will impact the U.S. economy and now forecasts GDP will drop 9% in Q1, followed by a stunning 34% drop in Q2, far and away the largest decline post-World War II.  However, Goldman also expects the U.S. economy will surge 19% in Q3, the largest quarterly increase in U.S. history. Goldman sees the main driver for recovery in the second half of 2020 coming from greater-than-expected fiscal and monetary support. Despite a strong recovery in the second half of 2020, Goldman forecasts the declines in Q1 and Q2 will create a 6.2 percent decline in GDP for the full year and push the unemployment rate as high as 15%. Read more

Local Unemployment Impact: Last week we shared that Tourism Economics projects the U.S. economy will lose 5.9 million jobs due to declines in travel. Locally, more than 463,000 jobs are directly or indirectly supported by tourism. Applying Travel Economics’ forecast to Orlando, we can anticipate a possible loss of 171,311 jobs, or 15% of total area employment.

Hotel Bookings Continue to Decline: In the Orlando hotel market, room bookings are showing a 63% decline for April, with group bookings down 90% and leisure down 50%. The decline begins to soften as we look to summer, with a 30% decrease in May and 17% decline in June. July and August bookings are showing a decline of 9%.

Consumer Confidence Drops Sharply: While the Consumer Confidence Index declined a relatively mild 9.5% from February, it should be noted that the index is comprised of two components: the Present Situation Index posted a 1% drop, but the Expectations Index, which reflects consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions, dropped 18.4%. Read more

Community & Health

Florida under new restrictions: This afternoon, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he will issue a 30-day stay-at-home order for Florida. More details about the order, which is set to begin Thursday at midnight, were still being developed by the state as of press time. Read more

Stay at Home Updates:
 As of press time, Orange County's current "Stay at Home" mandate remains in effect until April 9. For information on how the executive order impacts personal mobility and business operations, please refer to this updated and extended FAQ. For the most critical local health and government updates, visit Orange County's coronavirus webpage.

Testing Info Updates: Just shared by the county, effective today April 1, the Orange County Convention Center testing site will change its criteria to no longer have an age requirement. In addition to the Convention Center testing site, there is also one at 12050 E. Colonial Drive. The hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information, including testing criteria, can be found at ocfl.net/coronavirus.

Financial Assistance

Stimulus: The new Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has now passed. The estimated $2 trillion package is the largest economic relief package in our nation’s history, and includes major provisions to assist travel businesses, workers and their families.

With so many questions and information sources swirling on this critical act, we found the official page of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business to be a good resource for small business owners and entrepreneurs.The site also includes a comprehensive guide to the many new programs that will soon be available to them. Download the guide here.

Another valuable resource was compiled by our partner the U.S. Travel Association, which Visit Orlando engages with regularly for our destination needs. CARES Act resource page.

» Low-interest loans are accessible through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s disaster assistance program.

» The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program provides short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses. Now through May 8, businesses with fewer than 100 employees may apply at FloridaDisasterLoan.org.

» To help serve local businesses and industry employees, we have assembled information on community and financial relief efforts. This list is regularly updated on our member website.

Employment Assistance

» Workers needing unemployment insurance can get more information and sign up here.

» If you or a family member have been impacted by COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive re-employment assistance. Visit FloridaJobs.org.

» A list of companies with job openings can be found here. CareerSource Florida also has a resource page for employers and workers.

» Orlando Jobs is hosting a virtual job fair through April 3 to fill more than 1,700 jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Share Your Positive Story

Our industry has a history of coming together during difficult times. In recent days, we’ve seen several acts of community kindness, from Disney donating excess food to Second Harvest to companies offering discounts to first responders and healthcare workers. Tell us about your positive story here, and we’ll share the updates.

» Orlando chefs are working with World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization founded by Chef José Andrés, to provide fresh meals to the Orlando community, tomorrow, April 2, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Reyes Mezcaleria.

» Uber has committed 300,000 free meals on Uber Eats to first responders and healthcare workers in the U.S. and Canada.  

» Bolay is offering nurses, doctors and first responders a free meal on Wednesdays. 

» Brewstillery in Winter Park is producing ethanol to make hand sanitizer.

Stay safe,

George Aguel
President & CEO