Believe it or not, Tuesday marked one year since I took the helm as president & CEO of Visit Orlando. And what a full and productive year it’s been!
This video shows the progress we've made in each of the four key priorities I outlined from the start: discovery, recovery, partnerships, and diversity, equity & inclusion.
Thanks to everyone who has made this such a successful, rewarding year. Let’s keep that momentum going throughout 2022!
TDT Collections End Year on a High Note
Orange County collected $28.2 million in Tourist Development Tax for December, a 164.3% increase over December 2020 and $3.2 million higher than the previous month. It was the highest December TDT ever collected and the third-best month on record.
At Visit Orlando, we’re proud to play a role in this success through global sales and marketing efforts that aid our destination’s economic recovery. Campaigns like The Wonder Remains and Most Magical Gathering, as well as partnerships with Amazon Alexa, TripAdvisor, Expedia and many others, are just a few recent examples of how we’re keeping Orlando top of mind and driving visitation.
Weekly hotel metrics: For the week ending Jan. 29, Metro Orlando hotel occupancy was 58.6%, mostly unchanged from the previous week. While below pre-pandemic levels, the occupancy is significantly higher than the same period in 2021 (33.8%). Average daily rate was also nearly unchanged, up 37 cents to $133.40.
What's New in Orlando
There’s always something new opening in Orlando, as our destination continues to offer even more reasons to visit. Our team recently created a blog post and video highlighting a few of the exciting additions planned for this year, covering theme parks, attractions, dining and more. Take a look — you just might spot something you haven’t heard about yet!
Orlando Celebrates Black History Month
At Visit Orlando, one of the ways we drive travel is through promoting, year-round, the cultural diversity of our destination. To celebrate Black History Month, we recently shared a blog post and press release showcasing multiple events, restaurants and landmarks. Look for more content in the coming weeks on our social and digital channels as we work with local influencers to celebrate and uplift the diversity of our community.
Major Conventions Bringing Business to Orlando
It’s a busy season for events in Orlando, which is great news for us and a further sign of recovery. Last week we welcomed the 69th PGA Show, golf’s longest running and most influential business event. Next week we’ll host two more massive shows – the International Builders Show and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, projected to see tens of thousands of attendees Feb. 8-10, meaning huge economic impact for our destination. Click here for the full events calendar at the Orange County Convention Center.
A New Addition to Visit Orlando’s Board of Directors
A warm welcome to the newest member of our Board of Directors, Justin Williams, general manager of the Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando. Justin has over 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry and serves on multiple industry and nonprofit boards, including Man UP Mentoring, an organization for at-risk youth. We are very pleased he is joining us at Visit Orlando.
Legislative and Travel Industry Update
Last week’s legislative session with Tori Barnes of the U.S. Travel Association is now available here. Catch up on her insights about the future of travel — including both short- and long-term national priorities that will have a significant impact in the coming months, years and decades.
In other legislative news, The Florida Senate passed SB 434 yesterday, which extends VISIT FLORIDA’s authorization until 2031. This vote passed almost unanimously (36-1) and now the bill heads to the House Floor for a final vote, possibly next week.
Additionally, the House Infrastructure and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee recommended that VISIT FLORIDA is funded at $50 million for the next fiscal year, which begins in July 2022. The Senate will likely make the same recommendation when it releases its budget reports today.
This is a huge step forward and would be a tremendous long-term win for our industry!
Around the Destination
Thank You, Hotels! Over the chilly weekend, Visit Orlando got a request for blanket and pillow donations from Orange County, as homeless shelters were filling up fast. It was incredible to see the near-instantaneous response as we reached out to our hotel partners for help and were offered far more supplies than Orange County could even use! Thanks to each property that rallied to the call.
Cheering on Our Team: Thank you to the City of Orlando for hosting several Visit Orlando team members at the Orlando Magic game vs. the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. It was an exciting, close game, and the Magic came out on top!
New Partnership: We’re thrilled that Visit Orlando is now a strategic partner of the Maritz Global Events network of meeting planners. This week, we welcomed some of the Maritz executive staff and top producers for their annual kick-off conference. I was honored to give opening remarks and discuss the benefits of working with a destination marketing organization.
Across the Industry
WFTV: Universal Orlando Resort to hire 2,500 new team members
GoPegasus: “Art on Wheels” program promotes the region’s arts and cultural industry
Orlando Sentinel: Roller coaster debuts in Florida accelerating in 2022
Orlando Magazine: “In Focus” with Casandra Matej
Travel Weekly UK: Visit Orlando training platform offers discounts for agents
U.S. News and World Report: 14 Bucket list Orlando theme parks
OBJ: Brazil to open new office in Central Florida for residents, businesses and tourists
Bungalower: Chef Art Smith opening retro-style diner at Orlando International Airport
In your service,
Casandra Matej | President & CEO