March 19, 2020, 6 p.m.:

There's no doubt our industry is enduring a storm of unprecedented scope and severity. As we face these uncertain days together, our hearts go out to the many business leaders, employees and families who face previously unimaginable new decisions each day.

At Visit Orlando, our team is hard at work supporting visitors, travel industry and convention clients, member businesses and government leaders, all with the goal of promoting safety and positioning our destination for what we hope will be a speedy recovery.

Below is a topline recap of news related to travel and tourism. If you have questions or needs, please contact member relations.

AROUND THE DESTINATION

» Nightclubs, Bars and Restaurants: On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that all nightclubs and bars in the state will close for 30 days, implemented a 50% capacity limitation on restaurants and encouraged people to utilize takeout and delivery. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer echoed the governor's executive order, urging residents and businesses take these steps now to limit exposure to the coronavirus.

» Remote Dining: An increasing number of local restaurants are offering takeout and curbside services. Visit Orlando is using our social media channels to promote local businesses that are offering these remote dining options, as well as credible resources that are aggregating this information for consumers. Uber Eats has waived the delivery fee for more than 100,000 independent restaurants across the U.S. and Canada.

» Retail: Malls owned by Simon Property Group, including Orlando International Premium Outlets, Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, The Florida Mall and Mall at Millenia, will be closed through March 29. Read more.

» Air Travel: On Wednesday, the final outbound flight to the United Kingdom departed Orlando International Airport. According to the airport, while most domestic flights remain operational, there has been a significant decrease in international traffic.

DRIVE THROUGH TESTING

The Orange County Convention Center will be working with the Florida Department of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use its parking lot as a drive-through testing site for coronavirus. Officials said all testing will happen outside and will be facilitated by the Florida Department of Health.

RESEARCH & INSIGHTS

» The U.S. Travel Association released a report projecting that decreased travel due to coronavirus will inflict an $809 billion hit on the U.S. economy and eliminate 4.6 million travel-related American jobs this year. Locally, we're starting to see layoffs in several sectors of the industry, and we'll report those numbers when they become available.

» Lodging report, March 8-14: Metro Orlando's hotel occupancy rate (57.9%) declined 37.1% from the same week last year, while average daily rate ($127.59) was down 14.7% and room demand dipped 35.8%. Results for this current week (March 15-21) will reflect lower numbers because theme park closures went into effect Monday. One of International Drive's major convention hotels, the Hyatt Regency Orlando, will be closed until May 3 and, Four Seasons Resort Orlando will be closed March 24 to April 5.» In February, before coronavirus made its full impact known, metro Orlando's lodging sector turned in a strong month. Our occupancy rate was up 2.4% (85.2%) compared to the same time last year, while average daily rate was up 1.7% ($143.75) and demand showed an 8.1% increase. These numbers, of course, will change dramatically starting with the March report.

VISIT ORLANDO UPDATES

» Our marketing team is developing an aggressive recovery plan to drive visitation, in anticipation of when conditions return to favorable.  

» We remain dedicated to serving our visitors, clients and member companies in the best way possible. Destination updates, including businesses that remain open, are available on our Twitter and Facebook channels, and visitors can call 407-363-5872 or live chat with representatives on our website. For traveler FAQs, resources for visitors and other information related to COVID-19, please see our travel safety page.

» Given recent guidelines from government officials, we have postponed the following member events: March 24 Power Hour lunch and April 6 new member orientation. Please contact us via email to request any assistance you may need from us as your official tourism association.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

» The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering disaster assistance in the form of low-interest loans.

» The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program provides short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that are experiencing economic injury from COVID-19. Now through May 8, businesses with fewer than 100 employees may apply atFloridaDisasterLoan.org.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

» Orange County has a webpage dedicated to coronavirus updates, and it is being updated with the top takeaways from Mayor Demings' news conferences.

» The American Hotel & Lodging Association has made its recent webinar materials available to all hoteliers.

» For Orlando employers, the Orlando Economic Partnership has established a COVID-19 resource center page.

» United Way's 2-1-1 helpline is a free service that connects residents to critical health and social service resources. The 2-1-1 helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round. More information can be found here.

» Second Harvest Food Bank is available to help anyone in need of assistance. Its website contains a page for Coronavirus Prevention & Relief.

IN CLOSING

As we face this challenge together, each doing our part to ensure a better tomorrow, please remember to take good care of yourselves and your loved ones! 

Be safe,

George Aguel
President & CEO