County Advances Convention Center Expansion Project
Orange County Commissioners advanced a major project this week, approving a design services contract for the Convention Center’s upcoming expansion (rendering above). This development will enhance our destination as a leader in the convention marketplace. Our Convention Center is well known as a significant contributor to our local economy, with its ability to generate well over $2 billion each year in economic impact. A special thank you to Mayor Jerry Demings and our Orange County Commissioners for their leadership in bringing about this progress, which will allow us to remain a leading destination for this important business to our community.
’Tis the Season: Orlando No. 1 Holiday Travel Destination
With our one-of-a-kind holiday festivities, world-renowned attractions and warm weather, it’s no surprise that Orlando is America’s top holiday travel destination for the third year in a row. According to AAA, holiday travel will see record-breaking numbers this year, with 115.6 million Americans traveling between Dec. 21 and Jan.1, a 3.9% increase since last year. To help visitors plan their holiday vacation, Visit Orlando created a special webpage listing celebrations throughout our destination.
Congratulations to CFHLA and Don Quijote Award Winners
Last weekend, two of our industry’s most distinguished leaders were recognized for their exemplary service to our community. My former Disney colleague George Kalogridis, who has held many leadership roles at the company since 1971, won the Central Florida Hotel Lodging Association’s Charles Andrews Award for Community Leadership. At the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Metro Orlando’s 22nd annual Don Quijote awards gala, Jose Nído, vice president of global supplier diversity at Wyndham Destinations, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations to George, Jose and all the winners.
Two Summits Explore Tourism Opportunities with China
Last week, Visit Orlando held our first-ever Greater China Summit as part of our new “Big China Welcome” program to connect Orlando businesses with delegates from some of the country’s leading travel companies. The event included a destination orientation, guest speakers and marketplace. In addition, Daryl Cronk, our Visit Orlando economist and senior director of market research, spoke to more than 100 industry experts and academic researchers Dec. 17 during the USA-China Tourism Research Summit at UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. The annual research summit provides an opportunity to share strategic, innovative techniques that drive tourism between both countries.
Tourism Fueling Growth, Investment at Airport
With visitors to our destination accounting for 70% of passenger volume, Orlando International Airport announced a major milestone this week: 50.1 million passengers over the past 12 months — a 6.7% annual increase and the first Florida airport to reach that number. In addition, Frontier Airlines also announced two new local projects (a flight attendant training center and $10 million hangar) that will create 45 new jobs. Frontier President & CEO Barry Biffle summed it up best when he said Orlando is “one of the best destinations in America from a tourism perspective, and that creates a lot of opportunity for airlines like us to bring people to Orlando.”
November Saw Year’s Strongest Growth in Lodging Sector
Metro Orlando’s lodging sector has posted its strongest growth of any month this year. In November, occupancy (76.5%) rose 3.5% over November 2018, while the average daily rate ($125.55) went up 4.8%, room-nights sold rose 5.2% and revenue per available room jumped 8.5%. Looking ahead, advance booking data suggests continued strength through the first half of 2020.
OTHER NEWS FROM VISIT ORLANDO
» On Dec. 10, Aerolíneas Argentinas launched its new non-stop service from Buenos Aires, bringing more than 200 passengers to Orlando International Airport on its first day. For the past several months, our travel industry sales team has promoted the new route by assisting the airline’s marketing campaign and training travel professionals in key Argentine cities. The flights are seasonal through March 31 but may be extended based on performance.
» Our convention sales team recently attended ConferenceDirect’s Forum Meeting, an industry event that connects association and corporate planners from across the U.S. and helps drive future business to our destination.
» I’m honored to have been selected by BizBash, a leading resource for event and meeting professionals, as one of the top 1,000 people in the U.S. event industry. This recognition is a testament to the hard work of my team and many of our members who, collectively, have made Orlando the nation’s top overall destination for meetings, conventions and events.