Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with local business and community leaders about the tremendous impact of our tourism industry — and the role Visit Orlando plays in our destination's ongoing success.

Our conversation was all the more timely because Visit Orlando had just broken the news that a record 72 million visitors traveled here in 2017, more than any other destination in the U.S.

From nonprofit executives to small-business owners, it was apparent that everyone felt a deep sense of pride and ownership in our collective achievement. And that was especially meaningful because these were people who work outside the tourism industry.

Their reaction drove home a key point: When you get right down to it, tourism benefits all of Central Florida, not just the theme parks, attractions and hotels. Visitors generate nearly $70 billion each year in economic impact for our region, supporting 1 in 3 local jobs and providing taxes that help pay for a variety of crucial public programs and services.

Indeed, when tourism is strong, our economy is strong. The positive effects ripple throughout our community, as well as our state, and everyone in Orlando can be proud of our well-earned status as America's most-visited destination.

— George Aguel