We are thrilled to share that Visit Orlando’s 15th annual Magical Dining, with 78 member restaurants, raised a record $345,378 to help local residents struggling with food needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click the photo above to watch our heartwarming donation to Feed the Need Florida.

Given the pandemic, this year presented a unique set of challenges and uncertainty. In fact, when Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining launched Aug. 28, we did not expect anywhere close to a record donation. But our community rallied around this cause like never before, exceeding our highest expectations.

Driven by strong publicity, social media and in-kind marketing, reservations filled up fast, and delivery options were also a hit. On top of the standard $1 donation for each $35 three-course meal, some patrons even tipped hundreds of dollars more for our charity. Multiple restaurant owners spoke of how the influx of diners was “nothing short of magical” for their business and a “lifeline” to their workers.

A big thank you to everyone who participated. Your contributions made an incredible difference to our community!

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Congratulations to Orange County’s Newly Elected Officials

Congratulations to the three Orange County commissioners sworn into office this week after winning election in November: Nicole H. Wilson (District 1), Mayra Uribe (District 3) and Emily Bonilla (District 5). We look forward to working with you to support our county’s prosperity.

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Quarterly Update to Tourist Development Council

Visit Orlando CFO Randy Singh and Chief Sales Officer Mike Waterman presented last Friday to the Orange County Tourist Development Council, updating them on our industry's outlook and our organization's marketing efforts. The presentation can be viewed here.

October TDT Collections Continue Gradual Upward Trend

Collections of Orange County’s Tourist Development Tax rose to $7.70 million in October, about a 9% increase over September. This is the sixth straight month of increases in the TDT since April. Central Florida News 13 covered the TDT collections report in six broadcast segments that include stats provided by Visit Orlando.

It's important to note that, in the past, October has been a traditionally strong month for conventions. So to have this overall growth despite the slower recovery for group events reinforces the positive trend for leisure travel.

For November, we anticipate TDT collections will continue their gradual upward trajectory, fueled by the increased leisure travel we saw over Thanksgiving. Metro Orlando's occupancy rate for the week ending Nov. 28 was 38.8%, the highest it has been since early March.

Connecting with Event Industry Leaders at IAEE

Our convention sales team recently joined representatives from the Orange County Convention Center at IAEE's virtual Annual Meeting & Exhibition. The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), which includes 9,000 industry professionals across 50 countries, provides access to key event planners who generate millions in economic impact for our region. The forecast for 2021 events at the Convention Center is promising, with just over 1 million attendees projected.

Training 600 Latin American Travel Advisers

Last week, we teamed up with Disney Destinations Sales to host a webinar for 600 travel advisers from 13 Latin American countries and Spain. In addition to providing destination updates and selling strategies, the session showed strong pent-up demand for leisure travel from many of our key international markets. Mexico, Colombia and Argentina were the most represented countries on the webinar.

New Online Content Promotes Member Activities

On our website and in e-newsletters, our content marketing team is promoting Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dining specials from our member restaurants, and we’ve also rolled out a new article updating hotel openings and expansions for large groups. If your business would like to be considered in these or future efforts, please contact brand manager Nate Shelton.

Orlando Visitor Services Moves to 100% Virtual

As most visitors choose to communicate with our Visitor Services team through online, phone and live chat, we are refining our operations and will no longer operate a separate visitor center building on International Drive, as of Jan. 2.

We will continue to offer our existing high level of service, helping visitors plan and purchase vacation experiences, with our team operating virtually and from within Visit Orlando's main office on Sea Harbor Drive. We will also continue to operate the in-person guest-service desks at the Orange County Convention Center.

Final Call for Mayor Demings’ Toy Drive

Mayor Demings’ 10th annual Toy Drive will conclude Monday, Dec. 14. With so many families impacted by COVID-19, the need is very high this year. Find more information, including drop-off locations and suggested toys, here.