This week, Brightline announced Sept. 22 as the official launch date for its inaugural train service, connecting Orlando to our South Florida neighbors and beyond.

This exciting new service will provide residents and visitors—leisure and business—a unique means of travel and an added benefit to our community. Miami and Fort Lauderdale represent two of the top U.S. cities in terms of visitation to Orlando. The addition of Brightline expands the options for South Florida travelers wanting to visit Orlando but may not want to do the drive.

It also unlocks greater potential for our international visitors. Our research shows that international travelers stay longer (averaging nine nights compared to three for domestic travelers) and spend more during their visit. International visitors are extremely valuable to our destination because they spend those extra nights infusing a higher proportion of money into our community per visit.


The Brightline launch creates an opportunity for Visit Orlando to reach key audiences with branding activations like an Unbelievably Real wrapped Brightline train, a takeover of Brightline's Miami Premium Lounge and digital billboards at South Florida train stations.

The Visit Orlando team has also been promoting the new service during travel agent trainings, publicity efforts, on our social media channels and on our website. A new blog focused on Brightline answers consumers' biggest questions on the new service, creating an additional tool for residents and travelers.

A solid transportation infrastructure is critical to keeping us a top global destination. Investment in infrastructure serves all individuals, creating greater access to and throughout our destination.

Another view of people at work on Brightline train

The addition of the Brightline Orlando Station lays the foundation for creating a stable multi-modal transportation system for our destination. It can grow our transit system and someday have connectivity between the airport, downtown Orlando, the Convention Center, South International Drive, and Tampa.

We look forward to the positive impact Brightline will have on Orlando by creating greater access for visitors from South Florida and beyond, as international visitors flying into Miami and Ft. Lauderdale now have more options to visit our destination as part of their international holiday.

Your Visit Orlando team is committed to working with our industry and community partners as they continue to move transportation developments forward and are excited to see this new travel service come to fruition.

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Salt & the Cellar By Akira Back

Visit Orlando's Magical Dining

Two weeks remain for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining, the perfect opportunity to dine for a great cause and affordable price. This year, more than 130 restaurants across Central Florida are included in the program, with nine restaurants featured in the MICHELIN Guide and 22 first-time participants, serving three-course, prix-fixe menus. Through Visit Orlando, one dollar from each $40 menu and two dollars from each $60 menu will benefit The Lifeboat Project and six local nonprofits in Orange County's six commission districts. Hurry and book your dinner reservations—the program ends on Oct. 1!

Hotel Metrics

Metro Orlando occupancy for the week ending Sept. 9, was 58%, essentially flat from last week’s 57.8% and down 2.5% from the same week last year. The Average Daily Rate for the week was $159.44, up 2.4% from the same week last year.

Across the Industry

Aerial View of Lake Eola, Orlando, Florida

Business Traveler Awards: Orlando is a nominee in the Business Traveler Awards for “Best U.S. Meeting Destination” by Business Travel. The award recognizes destinations for having a dedication to excellence, innovation and outstanding service. Show your support by voting here before polls close on Oct. 15.

Around the Destination


Valencia College Gala: Valencia College invited Visit Orlando to its Red, Black, and Boundless Gala, a night dedicated to celebrating Valencia College’s impact on Central Florida and the accomplishments of its current students and graduates. We are so proud to be part of such a thriving community and support Valencia College’s faculty and staff. Congratulations President Kathleen Plinske and the rest of the team on a successful event and for showing great leadership by supporting 200,000-plus alumni and nearly 70,000 students.


Men of Honor Awards: Visit Orlando team and board members attended ONYX Magazine’s Men of Honor Awards, celebrating Congressman Maxwell Frost (honoree), Visit Orlando board chair Terry Prather (Publisher‘s Award) and several other influential and accomplished individuals in our community. ONYX Magazine is a premier publication celebrating Black achievement throughout Florida. Congratulations to all honorees!


Maritz Elevate: Our destination hosted Elevate, Maritz Global Events' client-focused education event. For three days at the Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, executive-level clients, suppliers and Maritz team members came together for a fully immersive experience created to help organizations plan and execute events. The group also had a behind-the-scenes dining experience on Steinmetz Hall's stage at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and enjoyed an adventurous closing night event at Universal Studios Resort.


Mexican Independence Celebration: In celebration of Mexican Independence Day, Visit Orlando's Chief Marketing Officer Danielle Hollander and board members attended the event for Opera Orlando and Casa de Mexico at the Orlando Museum of Art. Mexico Canta!, a celebration of Mexican art, culture and food, showcased Cecilia Violeta Lopez appearing as Frida in this season's Opera Orlando's Main Stage production of Frida on January 26 and 28 at Steinmetz Hall.

Visit Orlando Engaged!


Orange Appeal’s Women’s Conference: This week, Orange Appeal hosted its 13th annual Orlando Women’s Conference. This annual event focuses on growing, nurturing and providing a forum for local female leaders about women’s issues and community matters. I took part in a panel discussion with women leaders representing the Orlando Magic, Orlando Utilities Commission and Solidarity Partners. We each provided career advice, shared some of the obstacles we faced throughout our careers and discussed our life influences.

Destination Interview: ConferenceDirect associates invited Visit Orlando to an interview to discuss a wide range of topics, including how Visit Orlando is navigating the current political climate, Visit Orlando's recent initiatives, Orlando's newest developments and insights on future bookings and meetings. ConferenceDirect is one of the world's largest and most respected meeting and event management firms that helps enhance attendees' experience at conferences, meetings and events.

This interview was an excellent opportunity to inform our partners and audiences further that despite facing headwinds, Orlando has always been and will continue to be a diverse, welcoming and inclusive community. Visit Orlando will continue encouraging travel to our destination to drive progress.


Women’s Executive Council: I was honored to speak at the Women’s Executive Council’s (WEC) monthly luncheon. This wonderful group of ladies are diverse at various career stages. I spoke to them about the state of our industry and provided an overview of Visit Orlando.  Visit Orlando recently partnered with the WEC to award Camila Hernandez with a scholarship that will help her pursue a career in hospitality. I'm looking forward to WEC’s Awards Gala in October.

Casandra Matej's photo and signature for Tourism Matters