Today’s Business Insights Luncheon & Economic Forum at Hilton Orlando was a big success, with over 400 attendees on hand as we unveiled Visit Orlando’s new three-year strategic plan.  

This guiding document is the result of extensive destination-wide research and feedback from hundreds of key stakeholders across our industry and community. Thank you to everyone who participated!  
Here are a few highlights of what will define our organization going forward:  

A new set of core values: At Visit Orlando, we innovate, trust, welcome and serve. In addition, we “Orlando” — yes, we made our destination into a verb! — meaning we create moments that matter and have a blast doing it. Fun has no height restrictions! 

A new vision: To be the most visited, welcoming and inclusive travel destination in the world. 

A new mission: Inspire, promote and grow global travel to Orlando for economic and community benefit. 

New targets: By the end of 2024, we will achieve 80 million annual visitors and generate 40 million room nights. 
Strategic goals: We’re focusing on four primary areas — Sales & Marketing, Destination Management, Destination Alignment and Organizational Sustainability — with each containing specific key initiatives and targets. More details can be found in our strategic plan summary, as well as this piece in the Orlando Business Journal
As we look ahead to the next three years — operating with tremendous levels of support and collaboration from our member companies, industry partners and community leaders — I’m confident that, working together, our organization and destination will continue to reach new heights. 

Visit Orlando’s 16th annual Magical Dining Kicks Off Today

The wait is over! Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining is here for a limited time, now through Oct. 3. Enjoy $37 three-course meals at over 90 of our area’s finest restaurants. Menus are available at, as well as an easy way to make reservations

As always, one dollar from each meal will benefit local charities. This year’s recipients — Pathlight HOME and IDignity — combat homelessness and help people in need access crucial services. The video above provides a closer look, including a check-in with Feed the Need Florida, last year’s charity recipient.  
In addition, new this year, Visit Orlando will extend the program’s charitable impact by awarding a $2,000 donation to one local nonprofit on the front lines of homelessness in each of Orange County’s six commission districts. Those charities are: The Central Florida Hope Center, Latino Leadership, Matthew’s Hope, Professional Opportunities Program, Project Street Light and Zebra Coalition. 
Read more about new and exciting enhancements to Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining here.

Employment Data Paints Improving Picture for Leisure & Hospitality 

July employment data points to continual improvement for our industry, as the leisure and hospitality sector saw encouraging gains in the Orlando metro statistical market. Key takeaways include:  

  • The sector added 6,900 jobs over June, representing 82% of the growth in total MSA employment (8,400). That’s a 3.5% increase, compared to 0.7% for the total Orlando market.

  • Within the leisure and hospitality subcategories, growth was led by accommodations (5.1%), followed by arts, entertainment & recreation (4.9%) and food services & drinking places (2.2%).

  • Leisure and hospitality employment in July (204,000 jobs) was 73% of the pre-pandemic peak in February, while total MSA employment in July was 90%.

Hello, Fall: New Blogs for the Season 

Building on the momentum of our national marketing campaign, The Wonder Remains, we’re planting the seeds for fall travel with fresh content promoting seasonal events and popular food festivals. Check out these posts as you build your own itinerary — whether you’re into fun Halloween frights or culinary delights, we’ve got you covered. 

Orlando in Demand, According to USA Today

While the delta variant has caused traveler sentiment to dip nationally, our destination remains a favorite for those looking to travel. In fact, recent Google search data reveals Orlando as one of the most in-demand travel destinations in the U.S. for August, as reported by USA Today.  

The news outlet also generated awareness about our member company’s offers. “For deals, check Visit Orlando,” the story reported. “The tourism website has expanded its promotions for area attractions and accommodations, including special discounts for first responders.” 

This Week in the Community: Hispanic Chamber and Marriott Exchange

This week I had the pleasure of joining a panel discussion at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s annual conference, where CEOs shared business advice and personal insights with local companies and their employees. I also attended Marriott Exchange, meeting with top clients of Marriott International. These networking opportunities help plant the seeds for partnerships that will benefit of our destination. 

World Research Summit for Hospitality and Tourism 

I'm very excited to be speaking at the 6th World Research Summit for Hospitality and Tourism, held Dec 14-15 at Rosen College. This virtual, interactive event includes some stellar panel discussion topics, including sustainability and growth in tourism, data-driven decision-making and hospitality in healthcare. I look forward to these fresh perspectives on our industry and hope you’ll join us! Register now.

Hotel Metrics

For the week ending Aug. 21, Metro Orlando hotel occupancy fell to 46.9%, the lowest since February. Average daily rate also fell $9.78 to $107.29 but is still close to pre-pandemic levels from the same week in 2019. 

These lower numbers can be partially attributed to the typical slowdown we experience every August, as schools are back in session and summer draws to a close. In addition, national research shows that traveler sentiment is softening because of the delta variant.

Across the Industry

The Disney Blog: Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining features eight Walt Disney World restaurants 
News 13: SeaWorld Orlando’s new rollercoaster, Ice Breaker, to open in February  

Fox 35 Online: Delta variant of coronavirus helping drive down tourism in Orlando 

Orlando Business Journal: More than a dozen new restaurants and bars are headed to Orlando 

CNN: America could have COVID under control by spring 2022 with enough vaccinations 

TravelMole: US travel ban could continue until November   

TravelAge West: How theme parks are celebrating Halloween in 2021
American Planning Association: Post-pandemic tourism in Orlando

Casandra Matej

In your service,

Casandra Matej

Casandra Matej | President & CEO
Visit Orlando