As we start the second half of 2021, I wanted to bring you up to speed on some key Orlando tourism indicators, many of which are now approaching levels we haven’t seen in well over a year.

Lodging: Hotel room demand remains strong, recording back-to-back weeks of occupancy above 70% — the first time that's happened since early March 2020 — and average daily rate ($127.51) has surpassed 2019 levels for three consecutive weeks. We anticipate demand to meet or exceed current levels through summer.

Air Travel: July Fourth holiday travel volume at Orlando International Airport exceeded expectations, coming in at only 8% less than the same 13-day period in 2019. Spirit Airlines has also announced plans to restore flights to several international and domestic markets, offering 80 departures per day by the end of 2021.

Meetings: Our meetings and conventions industry is also exceeding expectations, with 68 events scheduled at the Orange County Convention Center for the remainder of 2021. That represents an estimated $1.2 billion in economic impact, which would closely mirror what we saw during the second half of 2019. 

Employment: While visitors are returning in force to Orlando, staffing gaps remain for leisure and hospitality companies, and that is true in cities across America. An encouraging sign, however, is that this sector of our local economy continues to see steady employment gains and advertise more job fairs, contributing to our region’s overall recovery.   

Finally, it’s important to recognize that, after months of steady decline, our region is now experiencing an upswing in COVID cases, especially in the 15-to-34 age range. It just underscores the need for a much greater segment of our population to become fully vaccinated, as that number now stands at only about 60%. 

Let’s all do our part, Orlando! Click here for more information on where to get vaccinated.  

Hand-Painted Visit Orlando Mural Pops Up in NYC 

Visit Orlando’s marketing campaign, The Wonder Remains, has taken on new life in the Big Apple, with a hand-painted wall mural in the popular SoHo District of Manhattan. This unique ad placement — running through July as part of our extended summer campaign — will be visible to 1.3 million people in one of our top domestic markets. Watch video here to see how it come to life.

To date, The Wonder Remains has generated 941.5 million impressions and nearly $80 million in visitor spending, a 10-to-1 return on investment. The campaign will be expanded to key international markets when global travel resumes. 

Educating Meeting Planners at PCMA EduCon 

This week, our convention sales team attended PCMA EduCon in Phoenix alongside our partners from the Orange County Convention Center. Mike Waterman, Visit Orlando’s chief sales officer, teamed up with OCCC executive director Mark Tester to lead three sessions for meeting planners returning to in-person conventions.  

PCMA EduCon “showed the world how business events can be a catalyst for bringing us back together to create deeper, meaningful, and safe interactions through a fusion of both in-person and digital experiences.” 

Life is Dandy when You Take Over Instagram

Did you catch last week’s Instagram takeover by influencer @isntlifedandy? She shared an in-depth look at her experience visiting SeaWorld’s Aquatica, from safety measures to the beautiful summer weather, garnering almost 92,000 impressions across 22 published stories on our channel. These types of social media efforts help us leverage third-party perspectives to drive visitation and showcase the incredible, diverse voices of Orlando’s many fans.  

Teaming Up to Promote Downtown

A special thank you to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and city leaders for last week’s daylong walking tour of downtown. After breakfast at the Grand Bohemian Hotel, my staff and I visited several neighborhoods, cultural and sporting venues, restaurants and other landmarks.  

As an organization that markets our entire destination, Visit Orlando is always on the lookout for new ways to attract visitors to our downtown core — and we definitely came away with some great ideas to promote The City Beautiful!  

Sharing Smiles with Our Friends at the Russell Home

Finally, as part of our efforts to serve the Orlando community in new, personally impactful ways, several team members recently volunteered at the Russell Home for Atypical Children, an Edgewood-based charity supported by Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining program in 2016. 

We were honored to assist with maintenance projects, organize pantries and spend one-on-one time with children in the classroom. It was also great to see the 1,200-square-foot girls’ dorm that the Russell Home was able to build with funds from Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining. Read more about our visit here

Across the Industry

Emirates returns to Orlando International Airport
Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort begins November 13
U.S. Travel Association cites minimal COVID risk for in-person meetings
Amway Center hosts job fair to hire staff for concerts, family shows and sporting events 
Disney announces reopening dates for more resort hotels 
Department of Commerce pledges $750M to travel and tourism industry 
Orlando ranks No. 1 as best U.S. city for recreation, says WalletHub 

In your service,

Casandra Matej

Casandra Matej | President & CEO
Visit Orlando