Florida's annual legislative session is underway in Tallahassee, and this week I joined a statewide delegation of colleagues to speak on behalf of our industry.  
Florida Tourism Day brings together destination organizations and industry partners from around the state. It is an excellent opportunity to thank our Central Florida representatives for supporting the travel industry. Through appointments with key legislators, we discussed high-priority issues and bills that would impact the allocation of county-based Tourist Development Taxes and the future of VISIT FLORIDA. 
Visit Orlando’s partnership with VISIT FLORIDA allows us to extend our reach to a broader audience through co-op advertising campaigns, targeted missions and other opportunities. 
Through VISIT FLORIDA’s work, millions of visitors and billions of dollars have positively impacted local communities across the state. I urge you to contact your local representative to help ensure VISIT FLORIDA continues to have stable funding. Your support will allow us to maintain our strong local-state partnership to achieve our mission of becoming the most visited, welcoming and inclusive travel destination in the world.


While in Tallahassee, the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association (CFHLA) honored Dana Young, president and CEO at Visit Florida, with the CFHLA Public Servant of the Year Award. In addition, Visit Orlando's chief marketing officer, Danielle Hollander, participated alongside United Arts of Central Florida in the Arts & Culture Advocacy Day to raise awareness and support nonprofits and artists in Orange County.


Legacy Leaders Reception

Yesterday, Visit Orlando hosted the inaugural Legacy Leaders reception at Hyatt Regency Orlando. This new initiative unites former Visit Orlando board of director chairs, president and CEOs, with our executive committee and executive management team to honor the past leaders that have guided Visit Orlando's success over the years, share ideas to bolster travel and tourism for Orlando and discuss ideas and insights for Visit Orlando. Legacy Leaders will meet twice a year moving forward.


Prepare for Global Meetings Industry Day

Next week on March 30, we are celebrating Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID), an international day of advocacy showcasing the proven value that business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions bring to businesses and the economy. This year’s theme, Meetings Matter, spotlights face-to-face meetings' economic and societal importance. 
In Orlando, we've continuously been ranked as Cvent’s No. 1 meeting destination in the country, offering world-class event spaces, over 480 hotels, Michelin-recognized dining, and entertainment unlike anywhere else. Join in on celebrating GMID by bringing awareness of the positive impact of meetings, sharing the toolkit and by using the hashtags #GMID2023 and #MeetingsMatter within your organization's messaging.


Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Charity Application

Charity applications for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining is now open through April 7. Local nonprofit organizations that provide services and resources to abuse survivors are highly encouraged to apply. Last year, we donated $186,805 to the charity beneficiary, 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

Registration remains open for Visit Orlando’s Travel & Tourism Event & Luncheon on May 11 at the Orange County Convention Center. As a reminder, single or 3-series corporate table sponsorships are available for purchase. Email Visit Orlando’s member recruitment manager, Kelly Kinney, for more information.

Key Tourism Indicators

For the week ending March 18: Metro Orlando occupancy was 87%, up from last week’s 79.6% but down -4.2% from the same week in 2022. The average daily rate was $244.65, up 3.6% from last year. 
Industry Employment: The Leisure and Hospitality sector within the Orlando MSA gained 1,600 jobs from December 2022 to January 2023 and is currently at 99% of pre-pandemic employment. The sector is comprised of three areas:

  • Food Services and Drinking Places increased by 0.6% from December to January. The sector is currently at 102% of February 2020 employment.
  • Arts, Entertainment and Recreation increased by 0.3% from December to January. The sector is currently at 103% of February 2020 employment.
  • Accommodations increased by 1% from December to January. The sector is currently at 92% of February 2020 employment. Also, January marks the highest employment for the accommodation sector since March 2020.

Across the Industry

Routes Americas Recognition: Visit Orlando won the Destination Award at Routes Americas 2023 Awards in Chicago. The awards celebrate excellence in airport and destination marketing and recognize airlines driving air service growth. We are grateful to be honored for this special recognition and will continue our valued partnerships with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority and Central Florida businesses to sustain and bring new air services to our destination. Executive vice president and chief development officer at Orlando International Airport (MCO), Vicki Jaramillo, accepted the award on Visit Orlando’s behalf.

Around the Destination

TDC Presentation: Today, Visit Orlando provided a quarterly update to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and the Tourist Development Council. During the presentation, we shared Visit Orlando’s 2023 business plan, which serves as a roadmap for strategic goals, key initiatives and success targets to guide our progress. In addition, we discussed the state of our industry and provided a recap on 2022 results.

Visit Orlando Engaged!

UK Media Marketplace: Visit Orlando participated in TravMedia's International Media Marketplace (IMM) in London. As a leading UK media networking event, IMM connects the travel industry with journalists, editors and influencers. Visit Orlando’s public relations senior manager, Amy Rodenbrock, met with 30 media to discuss the latest Orlando developments and pitched new story ideas.


HSMAI Luncheon: The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Central Florida Chapter hosted its monthly luncheon on Wednesday. Visit Orlando‘s director of market research & insights, Maria Henson, was part of a panel discussion and shared the outlook for international visitation to Orlando and the factors impacting travel sentiment. Additional topics covered included the future of the travel and tourism industry, demand forecasts and information on the leading international markets contributing to Central Florida.

Casandra Matej's photo and signature for Tourism Matters