Thank you to our many member companies and community leaders who attended Visit Orlando’s first-ever virtual Annual Meeting last week, where we welcomed new board chair Brian Comes, area vice president of Hyatt Regency Orlando.
During the meeting, Daryl Cronk, our senior director of market research and insights, provided a thorough analysis of Orlando’s tourism industry, including what we might expect for the future. Here are some key takeaways from his presentation:
- 2020 Recap: Metro Orlando hotel demand, as measured by room nights sold, will likely end 2020 down 57% vs. last year, our lowest level since 1986. Employment in Orlando’s leisure and hospitality sector fell 58% during the early pandemic months; the industry has since recovered nearly half of those jobs.
- Current Snapshot: Industry indicators are rising slowly but steadily since April’s lowest point, with early signs of recovery. Hotel demand has grown each month, yet it is still down more than twice as much as what we experienced after 9/11. Likewise, total passenger traffic at Orlando International Airport in October was 10 times April’s count (1.59 million vs. 154,424) but still well behind last year’s pace.
- Holiday Travel: For Dec. 26-Jan.2, hotel bookings are down 54% vs. the same week in 2019; however, domestic airline capacity to MCO — which is not a sign of actual booked trips — is only down 14%. This suggests that, while there will be an uptick in air travel to Orlando over the holiday week, a lot of those travelers will be staying with friends and family.
- The Road to Recovery: On the national level, travel will see a difficult start to 2021 before gaining momentum over the summer, assuming a successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of spring. In Orlando, leisure travel will recover before business travel, and domestic visitation will recover before the return of international visitors. Hotel demand is forecast to grow 55%, bringing it to 67% of pre-pandemic levels. A full recovery of hotel demand is likely to be reached by 2023.
Sharing Industry Insights and News
From economic forecasts to a big charitable donation by Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining program, last week was full of important news across our industry. To get the word out, our publicity team secured more than 50 stories in local and national media, including segments on Orlando’s tourism outlook (Fox35, WESH), as well as coverage of Tourist Development Tax collections and our organization’s continued marketing efforts (Channel 13 and WKMG). As you might imagine, our record $345,378 donation to Feed the Need Florida was also a big hit, getting picked up in outlets like MSN and Yahoo News.
The Return of Safe, Successful Events
Orlando continues to lead the way for the return of safe meetings, conventions and tradeshows, as evidenced by last weekend’s AKC National Championship at the Orange County Convention Center. With no spectators and enhanced safety protocols, America’s largest dog show looked different from previous years, but extensive planning by the show managers, Visit Orlando, OCCC and our convention hotels made it a successful event.
Similarly, this weekend’s Central Florida International Auto Show, open to the public, will feature industry-leading health and safety measures to protect attendees, vendors, employees and the surrounding community. It will be the first auto show in the U.S. since the pandemic.
Orlando’s World Travel Award Winners
Congratulations to the winners of the 27th World Travel Awards™, which celebrate excellence across all key sectors of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. Several area businesses were honored with designations this year, and we are proud to count them among our members. Winners include:
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort
- Florida's Leading Family Resort 2020
- Florida's Leading Resort 2020
- Florida's Leading Resort 2020
Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport
- Florida's Leading Airport Hotel 2020
Waldorf Astoria Orlando
- Florida's Leading Luxury Hotel 2020
- Florida's Leading Hotel Suite 2020
Walt Disney World
- North America's Leading Theme Park Resort 2020
Awards & Accolades
- Orlando has been listed among Global Trade Magazine's “Top 25 Convention Cities," as judged by walkability, affordability, safety, exciting tourism options and city assets.
- For the 3rd straight year, Visit Orlando received ConventionSouth's Annual Reader's Choice Award as one of the nation’s top convention and visitors bureaus.
Metro Orlando's occupancy rate for the week ending Dec. 12 was 36.2%, up from 33.2% the previous week. This is the second highest weekly occupancy Orlando has seen during the pandemic. Average daily rate fell $1.38 to $83.19.