Last week, I had the pleasure of joining nearly 1,500 residents and community leaders at Mayor Jerry Demings’ 2019 State of the County address at the Orange County Convention Center.

In a fitting tribute to our region’s roots, the mayor began and ended his speech with his vision of making Orange County “the experimental prototype community of tomorrow,” built on innovation, collaboration and inclusion.

This idea of an EPCOT 2.0, if you will, provides our community a great model for progress, and our tourism industry is proud to play a leading role. As the mayor noted, “funds derived from tourism help improve the overall quality of life in Orange County,” generating a $70 billion impact that provides “a good indicator of (our) overall economic health.”

From the ongoing success and expansion plans at the Convention Center … to record-setting passenger count at Orlando International Airport … to bed taxes that fund a diversity of local projects, tourism greatly contributes to the strength of Orange County and Central Florida as a whole.

-- George Aguel