Tuesday the 25th is National Plan for Vacation Day, and we’re celebrating by launching a personalized Vacation Planning Service where travelers can receive free, one-on-one advice from our Vacation Experts.  
This is the first time we’ve offered a digital concierge-style experience to visitors, and it’s super easy — they just schedule an appointment online and we help take the hassle out of planning a vacation.  
With so much to do across Orlando, this is a wonderful opportunity for guests to build their perfect itinerary, with individual guidance on everything from accommodations and transportation to dining and entertainment.

To promote this service, we’re working with Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom, on a series of TV interviews which will air on National Plan for Vacation Day in key regional markets in the U.S.
Read more about this new service here, and don’t forget to share it with friends and family — then make sure to plan your own Orlando staycation Jan. 25! 

State Bills Would Modify TDT Expenditure Requirements

Florida’s annual legislative session is underway in Tallahassee, and this week I joined a statewide delegation of colleagues to speak on behalf of our industry. 
Through personal appointments with key legislators, we discussed bills that would impact the future of VISIT FLORIDA, allocation of county-based Tourist Development Taxes (the additional levy on overnight lodging) and other high-priority issues.  
Here’s a summary of the bills pertaining to TDT. We will keep you updated on their progress in the coming weeks:  
1. HB 6075/SB 1898: These identical bills look to modify one of the requirements that allows for the use of TDT for infrastructure improvements. In current law, there are five requirements counties must adhere to before spending TDT on infrastructure projects. This bill proposes to delete the requirement that a county must first use at least 40% of the total TDT collected to promote and advertise tourism before it could authorize and use TDT’s for those improvement projects. 
2. HB 673/SB 1542: These identical bills seek to make changes to the area of the statute that allows for TDT to be used for lifeguards in certain rural coastal counties, increasing the percentage that could be used from 10% to 20%, as well as expanding the uses from public safety to include “tourism training programs.”    
Learn more in this briefing from Destinations Florida

Orlando Feature in Top UK News Outlet 

We recently partnered with VISIT FLORIDA to bring Simon Calder, a journalist from UK-based The Independent, to Orlando. The results include an incredible feature-length article, 30-minute video and three other stories in which Simon explores many of Orlando’s top hotels, theme parks, museums, restaurants and attractions, sharing his experiences with The Independent’s 54 million monthly online visitors. The UK is our largest overseas market and newly reopened for travel to the U.S., so this coverage is perfectly timed to reach Brits who are planning their 2022 travel. 

Around the Destination and Beyond

2022 is off to a full swing! This week I had the opportunity to take my first visit to Tallahassee for Florida Tourism Day. Partnering with destination organizations around the state alongside the delegation of CFHLA, we had an opportunity to meet with the Central Florida Delegation. It was a great opportunity to say thank you to the legislators for their support of the travel industry. We were very encouraged that there are two bills filled to support extending VISIT FLORIDA until 2028 or 2031! This is great news as Visit Orlando has tapped into some of their valuable missions and co-ops to further our visibility as a destination.

On Thursday I partnered up with Mark Tester of the OCCC and provided an annual update to the I-Drive Resort Area Chamber of Commerce at the Hilton Orlando. Maria Henson, our director of market research and insights, also spoke at the National Fisheries Institute Global Seafood Market Conference at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate.

Today, Visit Orlando staff are helping with the Central Florida NAF Academy of Hospitality and Tourism’s annual competition, held at UCF’s Rosen College. Eighty students from area high schools are competing in hospitality-related competitions, and we’re proud to serve on the judging panels, fostering future hospitality workers along the way.

Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Selects New CEO 

We want to thank Phil Brown, retiring later this month, for his service as the CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which oversees Orlando International Airport. Phil was hired as the chief executive of Orlando’s international and executive airports in 2010. His leadership and vision have led the airport through COVID-19 and the development of the soon-to-open South Terminal. We wish Phil all the best!  

Florida Secretary of Transportation Kevin Thibault has been selected to succeed Phil as the next CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. Congratulations, Kevin! We look forward to our future partnership. 

Hotel Metrics

For the week ending Jan. 15, Metro Orlando hotel occupancy was 56.5%, a slight drop from last week but far above the national average and still much higher than the occupancy for the same week in 2021. Average daily rate rose $2.33 to $133.03. 

Across the Industry

Fox 35: Brightline begins test runs from West Palm Beach to Cocoa

Yahoo: Orlando 25th most beautiful city in the U.S.
Northstar: Orlando among world’s best spots for conventions
MSN: Travel trending with Kathy Witt: New thrills coming to Orlando theme parks
Matador Network: 10 hotels with special proposal packages to de-stress your engagement
U.S. Soccer: Orlando to host USA-Panama game March 27
USA Today: 10 trends that will shape the travel landscape in 2022

Amway Center: Job fairs seeking event staff set for Jan. 25 and Feb. 15

Tripadvisor: Orlando makes top 25 global destinations for sun seekers 

Casandra Matej

In your service,

Casandra Matej

Casandra Matej | President & CEO
Visit Orlando