Football fans, get ready: It’s bowl season in Orlando!  

For the first time ever, we’re hosting five NCAA bowl games, starting with tonight’s Tailgreeter Cure Bowl at Exploria Stadium and culminating Jan. 15 with all-star bowls at Camping World Stadium and UCF’s Bounce House. In between are the Cheez-It Bowl (Dec. 29) and Vrbo Citrus Bowl (Jan. 1), both at Camping World Stadium. Get all the details here

In addition to keeping Orlando top of mind for a national viewing audience, bowl season further boosts our reputation as a prime destination for all types of sports — professional, collegiate, amateur and youth.  

Visit Orlando is proud to partner with organizations such as Florida Citrus Sports and the Greater Orlando Sports Commission on athletic events that generate considerable economic impact for our community. When fans pack the stands, that’s a victory for everyone! 

Multicultural Marketing Campaign

In partnership with several member companies, we just completed a three-month multicultural marketing campaign targeting key audiences to choose Orlando for their next vacation. The campaign generated over 65 million national impressions, 23,000 web sessions to and high scores on brand health surveys. Here are the three groups we engaged:

  • U.S. Hispanic Audiences: TV, digital display, and social and custom content on Univision’s “Despierta America” morning show.

  • African American Audiences: TV, radio and digital display in key markets on the Urban One network. Radio spots voiced by Rickey Smiley promoted what’s new in Orlando, as well as fall and holiday events.  

  • LGBTQ+ Audiences: A digital takeover program on Edge Media Network included custom articles on Orlando, exclusive emails, digital display and sponsored social.

Partnering with VISIT FLORIDA on Media Visits 

In collaboration with VISIT FLORIDA, we recently hosted five U.S. media outlets on a press trip to experience Orlando “like a local.” Journalists contributing to The Matador Network, TripSavvy, The Grio, Practical Wanderlust, Forbes, USA Today 10Best, Thrillist and Conde Nast Traveler explored Orlando’s distinct neighborhoods, culinary scene, new attractions, outdoor activities and arts and cultural offerings, including a tour of the soon-to-open Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. 

Wrapping Up 2021 with Tradeshows and Sales Missions

Our convention sales team finished out the year with a sales mission in Tallahassee for 55 clients, followed by major tradeshows in Chicago (AF Association Forum) and Atlantic City (INTER[action] 2021). 

The strength of Orlando’s meetings and events industry is based on the relationships and personal connections we have with our clients, partners and suppliers — making these tradeshows and sales missions a vital part of our strategy to secure more group events and, in turn, contribute to a healthy, thriving Orlando economy.
Year to date through November, our sales team has booked over 400 in-house and citywide events for future years, representing approximately $1.8 billion in economic impact. 

Around the Destination

It’s been another packed week of events for our team, starting with last weekend’s annual gala by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando. Congratulations to Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon, who won the Don Quijote Excellence Award. 
On Monday, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, a longtime supporter of Orlando’s tourism industry, gave his 2021 State of Downtown Address. We’re excited about his plans for new transportation options and an innovative park under I-4. Later that evening, several staff attended a holiday party graciously hosted by the Orange County Convention Center. A big thanks to Mark Tester and Yulita Osuba for their incredible partnership and support throughout this year and beyond. 
On Wednesday, we hosted the I-4 Corridor DMO Leadership with Destinations Florida, who gave us a preview of the upcoming legislative session. Find more information on that below. 
Finally, I had the pleasure of speaking on a virtual panel at the 6th World Research Summit for Hospitality and Tourism by UCF’s Rosen College. Thank you to everyone who attended.

2021 Smart Meetings Platinum Choice Awards Winner 

Visit Orlando has been named a Smart Meetings Platinum Choice Awards winner for 2021. The awards honor the hospitality industry’s top-ranked hotels and destinations that display the highest standards of excellence in service and amenities. We’re honored to receive this recognition!

An Update on Omicron 

According to the latest research by Destination Analysts, traveler sentiment is softening due to the news about COVID-19 omicron variant. However, the shift in the mood is not impacting travel plans just yet. Travelers are still expecting to take their holiday trips in December, and only 12% are reporting cancelations due to Omicron variant. 

The Orlando market is yet to see any impact of omicron. Advance hotel bookings for the first quarter of 2022 are continuing to see slight increases week to week, and the holiday week is on track to hit pre-pandemic levels. 

Tourism Industry Legislative News 

We want to keep you up to date on relevant legislation that impacts our industry. While in Session (Jan. 11 to March 11), we’ll be passing along weekly updates courtesy of Destinations Florida. Currently, there are two proposed bills of note:

  • House Bill 6075 - Tourist Development Taxes by Rep. Eskamani looks to modify the requirements for use of TDT’s for infrastructure improvements. In current law there are five requirements counties must adhere to before spending TDT on infrastructure projects. This bill proposes to remove 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.

  • House Bill 673 - Tourist Development Taxes by Rep. Shoaf seeks to make changes to the area of the statute that allows for TDT’s to be used for lifeguards in certain rural coastal counties. This bill would increase the percentage that could be used from 10% to 20% as well as expand the uses from public safety to include “tourism training programs”. 

Hotel Metrics 

For the week ending Dec. 11, Metro Orlando hotel occupancy was 64%, up four percentage points from the previous week but still just short of the levels seen in early November. Average daily rate rose 29 cents to $131.27.

Across the Industry

WFTV: AAA: Orlando top destination for holiday travel

OBJ: SeaWorld makes big splash with financial performance despite COVID challenges

Travel Pulse: Consumers’ shifting behavior continues reshaping travel industry's future

Bungalower: Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining initiative raised $289,291 this year

Travel Weekly: Orlando attractions extend beyond theme parks

WalletHub: Orlando among the top two best cities for Christmas

USA Today: Travel ideas: Florida's most romantic getaways for couples

Orlando Sentinel: Orlando’s Packing District neighborhood opening in 2022 with park, YMCA

Orlando International Airport: GOAA shortlists candidates for CEO; South Terminal 87% done 


Casandra Matej

In your service,

Casandra Matej

Casandra Matej | President & CEO
Visit Orlando