Orlando’s distinct arts and entertainment scene is a key cultural facet of our destination and a beautiful, living part of our community. 

Nothing embodies this quite like IMMERSE, the annual performing and interactive arts event this weekend in downtown Orlando. More than 1,000 artists and performers are scheduled to entertain large crowds in six zones and four stages along Orange Avenue — and I’m looking forward to attending tonight, myself! 

Kudos to founder Cole Nesmith and his team at Creative City Project for building IMMERSE into a giant source of community pride. Their imagination and vision reinforce Orlando’s stature as a place where creativity and innovation come to life.  

Last Weekend to Enjoy Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining  

Before you head to IMMERSE, make sure to enjoy the last weekend of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining. More than 75 restaurants are still offering three-course meals for $37 through Sunday, so let’s give our local benefiting charities one final push before it ends. Head to MagicalDining.com for menus and reservations.  

Announcing Visit Orlando’s Most Magical Gathering Contest

After more than a year of delayed birthdays, anniversaries and graduations, Visit Orlando, in collaboration with Disney Meetings & Events and Spirit Airlines, is offering U.S. residents the chance to regather and capture their missed milestones in a once-in-a-lifetime family event in Orlando.  

Visit Orlando’s Most Magical Gathering Contest, launched yesterday, will give one lucky winner an unforgettable trip with up to 49 of their closest family and friends! The group will (finally) be able to celebrate in Orlando, experiencing The World’s Most Magical Celebration together at Walt Disney World Resort in March 2022. 

Consumers just have to submit their stories for a chance to win, now through Nov 29.

Visit Orlando Wins ConventionSouth Readers’ Choice Award 

For the fourth consecutive year, Visit Orlando has been honored with ConventionSouth’s annual Readers’ Choice Award, which recognizes the highest commitment to professionalism, creativity and service for group events. Thank you to the many industry professionals who cast a vote on our behalf! 

Reaching Travel Advisers at the Nexion Travel Group Conference  

Our sales team recently attended Nexion Travel Group’s annual conference at Universal’s Sapphire Falls Resort, networking with travel sales professionals across the U.S. and Canada. With a membership of over 7,000, Nexion is an industry leader in attraction ticket sales and hotel bookings. Our training workshops helped educate attendees on how to sell Orlando and what’s new across our destination. 

Volunteering at Come Out With Pride 

Last weekend, Visit Orlando employees volunteered at the Come Out With Pride parade in support of our LGBTQ+ community. Our group thoroughly enjoyed serving as greeters, handling ticket sales, staging the route, decorating floats and assisting with crowd control. Word on the street is, their cheers were among the loudest in the crowd! 

August TDT and a Look Ahead

Tourist Development Tax collections for August were $16.5 million, which is an $8.2 million drop from July and $3.5 million lower than August 2019. This can be traced to a number of factors. Below are a few insights into the current and future projections for visitation: 

  • Seasonal Travel Patterns and Delta Variant: Traditionally, August TDT collections are lower than July due to seasonal travel patterns. The more significant decline for August 2021 compared to July 2021 is largely due to the challenges of the delta variant.
  • The Return of International Travel: There is pent-up demand from our overseas markets and excitement to return to our destination. While international seat capacity in December is not back to 2019 levels yet, the opening of U.S. borders in November will be an important first step to welcoming back overseas visitors.  
  • Cautious Optimism for Fall, Holidays: As cases decrease across the country, research is showing that traveler sentiment in the U.S. has stabilized but remains lower than earlier in the summer. Visit Orlando continues driving demand to our destination, with marketing campaigns running this fall and winter in the U.S. UK, Canada and Mexico. 

Around the Destination

  • Universal Orlando Resort: What do "The Bourne Identity," "Harry Potter" and "Jurassic Park" have in common? You guessed it, Universal Orlando! There is always something new to enjoy in Orlando, whether it just opened prior to the pandemic or during. We can be proud of the visionaries in this community! Thank you, Universal, for hosting a community gathering so we could experience the amazing Bourne Stuntacular, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and the newest ride, Jurassic World VelociCoaster. 
  • State of Rosen College: On Wednesday, several Visit Orlando staffers joined dozens of academic and industry leaders to hear Dean Youcheng Wang provide his annual update on UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Visit Orlando is a longstanding partner of the college, and we look forward to working together on new initiatives in the coming months.  
  • Orlando Business Journal's CEO’s of the Year 2021: On Thursday, I cheered as one of our industry leaders, Chris Jaskiewicz of ICON park, was honored among OBJ's CEO’s of the Year for 2021. A big congratulations to Chris on all of his accomplishments as a leader in our community!

Hotels See Highest Weekend Occupancy Since Early August

For the week ending Oct. 9, Metro Orlando hotel occupancy rose to 56%, nearly a 10-percentage point increase from the prior week. Weekend occupancy levels (Friday-Saturday) rose to an impressive 80% to help Orlando see its highest weekly occupancy since early August. Average daily rate also rose $16.32 to $129.52. 

Across the Industry