Yesterday we celebrated Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) — a yearly celebration to showcase the proven value that business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions bring to businesses and the economy.

According to U.S. Travel Association, in 2022, there was nearly $100 billion in meeting and event-related travel spending in the U.S. — directly supporting more than 600,000 American jobs. Meetings play a critical role in bolstering the American economy and the Orlando economy.

Hosting meetings in Orlando is essential to our destination's success. Visitor spending from Orlando's meeting industry can contribute approximately $4 billion to the destination. In Orlando, the meeting and convention market is off to a strong start as group segment hotel bookings for the first quarter of 2023 are 41% ahead of the first quarter of 2022. Major shows have taken place at the Orange County Convention Center, including PGA's Merchandise Show 2023, The NAFEM Show 2023, Sunshine Classic 2023 and the currently underway MegaCon 2023. 

Join me in highlighting all the reasons why meetings matter today and every day as we shine a spotlight around the world and amplify their value.

Vaccine Mandate Repeal Expected to Boost Travel

Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate passed the H.J. Res. 7 which terminates the federal COVID-19 emergency declaration before its May 11 expiration date. The passing of this bill will help boost tourism and the economy as well as our global competitiveness.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman stated, "Today's bipartisan action by Congress to lift the vaccine requirement for travel to the U.S. eases a significant entry barrier for many global travelers that will move our country forward.”

While this is good news, there is still a need to reduce wait times to 21 days for U.S. visitor visas, which still exceeds a year in our top 10 visa-requiring markets. The Commerce Department has set a goal to welcome 90 million visitors annually to the U.S. by 2027 making it imperative that this bill passes, and visa wait times are reduced.


Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Charity Applications Are Open

One week remains for Central Florida nonprofits to apply for Visit Orlando's Magical Dining. This year's donated funds focus on organizations that provide services and resources to abuse survivors. In 2022, we donated $186,805 to The Able Trust and six local organizations — BIG SIS Inc., Central Florida Urban League, HOPE CommUnity Center, PACE Center for Girls, Rebuild Self Care and Society of St. Vincent de Paul. For questions, contact Visit Orlando's director of community relations & external affairs, Kristin Westover.


Visit Orlando's Signature Luncheon

Register today for Visit Orlando's Travel & Tourism Event & Luncheon on May 11 at the Orange County Convention Center. At the general session, the EVP of Travel Intelligence at MMGY, Chris Davidson, will discuss inclusivity in travel. Visit Orlando's director of market research & insights, Maria Henson will provide information on trends, performance and an outlook for 2023. At the Travel & Tourism Luncheon, two-time Emmy Award-winning TV personality and travel expert, Samantha Brown, will speak on the Emotional Value of Travel. Email our member recruitment manager, Kelly Kinney, to purchase single or 3-series corporate table sponsorships.

Visit Orlando Members Featured on CBS

Coming in May, two of Orlando's hotels and Visit Orlando members, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort and Lake Nona Wave Hotel, will be featured in season two of CBS' Hotels ByDesign, which uncovers the most luxurious and immersive designer hotel experiences in America and abroad. View more about the show here. Also on 123 CBS stations, a news report aired on destination weddings making a comeback. Visit Orlando worked with the CBS correspondent Wendy Gillette who reported her story from Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort and The Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Watch the segment here.

Hotel Metrics

For the week ending March 25, 2023, Metro Orlando occupancy was 81%, up from last week's 79.6% but down 2.8% from the same week last year. The average daily rate was $234.81, up 8.8% from last year.


Across the Industry

Visit Orlando Award: ConferenceDirect named Visit Orlando its Partner of the Year during an award ceremony at its Annual Partner Meeting. Visit Orlando sales managers Virna Navia (third from left) and Ashley Mayo (fourth from left) accepted the award on behalf of our organization. ConferenceDirect is one of the world's leading meeting and conference solutions and services providers.


Visit Orlando Engaged!

Rosen Resorts and Hotels Community Update: Visit Orlando Chief Marketing Officer, Danielle Hollander and Laureen Martinez, Vice President, Marketing and Brand Management provided an update on the Orlando Unbelievably Real global brand to the Rosen Resorts and Hotels associates during their monthly community update program. 


Supporting Orlando's Soccer Teams: A cross-section of Visit Orlando departments toured the Orlando City Soccer stadium and met with the leadership team of Orlando City Soccer and Orlando Pride to discuss ways to collaborate on driving more demand and opportunities for clients.


Press Trip: Visit Orlando hosted media and content creators from Colombia on an "Unexpected Orlando" press trip that included theme parks and beyond experiences as well as outdoor adventures, Michelin-recognized restaurants and shopping. The places visited included Magic Kingdom ParkWinter Park Sidewalk Art FestivalOrlando International Premium Outlets, the Grand Bohemian Hotel and more thrilling Orlando experiences.


Pharma Forum: Last week, Visit Orlando and nine members attended Pharma Forum in New York. Pharma Forum is the largest and most influential conference for meeting and event professionals to navigate the future of medical meetings, address compliance implications and execute contracting strategies with virtual, hybrid and face-to-face.


Global Entry Interviews: Visit Orlando partnered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide Global Entry interviews to 40 members (and their families) in our office. Due to the high demand and lengthy interview wait times, Visit Orlando was happy to facilitate this member opportunity.