We’re thrilled to welcome back Brazilian travelers this week as Wednesday marked the return of direct flights on both Azul and LATAM airlines. Pre-pandemic, Brazil was our third-largest international market, with 830,000 visitors in 2019.
To celebrate, Visit Orlando partnered with Orlando International Airport and some of our member companies to greet the first passengers with refreshments and swag bags. Severalmediaoutlets heralded the arrival, and eight local Brazilian influencers helped us stoke more excitement on social media with a “welcome back” video in Portuguese.
After 20 months of closed borders, there’s a lot of pent-up demand for an Orlando vacation — and we’re encouraged that international seat capacity for December is currently 81% of where it was two years ago at this time.
That said, we are keeping a close eye on developments with the new omicron COVID-19 variant, especially in regard to new federal guidelines for international travel. At this time, however, it is still too early to predict any potential impact on Orlando’s tourism industry.
Fortunately, with the availability of vaccines, along with vaccine and testing requirements, there are protocols in place to keep travelers safe. We’ll keep you informed of further updates as this situation develops.
TDT Increased By Nearly $5 Million in October
Orange County collected $21.4 million in Tourist Development Taxes for October, higher than September collections by $4.96 million and only $3.43 million lower than in October 2019. A key indicator of our recovery, October collections remain significantly above where they were at the beginning of the pandemic.
For the week ending Nov. 27, Metro Orlando hotel occupancy was 64.5%, down slightly from the previous week but level with pre-pandemic occupancy from the same week in 2018 and 2019. Average daily rate remained strong at $135, much higher than even pre-pandemic levels for this time of year.
A Month Full of Sales Missions
To close the year, we’re ramping up our efforts to reach meeting planners searching for the perfect destination to hold large-scale events. This week, we completed a sales mission in New Jersey, and we’re gearing up for three more in Philadelphia, Atlantic City and Chicago. We’re determined to pack Orlando’s calendar with conventions and group meetings that will further our economic recovery in 2022 and beyond.
Visit Orlando Quarterly Update
This morning, I provided Visit Orlando’s quarterly update to Orange County’s Tourist Development Council, offering insights into the state of our industry and international travel, as well as highlights of our marketing campaigns, convention sales efforts, and Visit Orlando’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. View the presentation here.
Last Chance! Join Us for a Magical Celebration
We’re one week away from Visit Orlando’s Year-End Celebration Luncheon, but there are still spots available if you register now! It's going to be an unforgettable day at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, where we’ll be toasting Disney World’s 50th anniversary with a magical mix of festive fun, inspiration and industry insights. Don’t miss out!
Congratulations to Universal Orlando President Bill Davis
After 15 years as president of Universal Orlando, Bill Davis has announced his retirement. We at Visit Orlando want to offer our gratitude and congratulations on a superlative career — he’s led Universal through several major expansions, from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to the Volcano Bay water theme park — and our destination has benefitted greatly from his leadership.
Bill has also served continuously on Visit Orlando’s Board of Directors since 2007. He actually started as a director-at-large way back in 1989 before serving as president in 1991 and chairman the following two years. All the best in retirement, Bill!
Karen Irwin, president of Universal Studios Hollywood, will become president of Universal Orlando Resort Jan. 1. Read more.
It’s a busy time of year for our staff when it comes to community and industry events. Below are a few highlights of where we’ve been in recent weeks.
In The Community:
Florida Classic Consortium Kickoff Luncheon, in support of the annual football game between FAMU and Bethune-Cookman.
Lake Nona, for a tour of community attractions, restaurants and the Wave Hotel.
Eleven at Reunion Resort & Golf Club, a member company that recently reopened.
Southeast Tourism Society Group Sales Symposium in Georgia, for a panel discussion among DMO executives.
In Colombia, we joined Visit Florida and executive leaders from six Florida DMOs to meet with key trade partners, airlines, and consumer and trade media.
Visit Orlando’s Week of Volunteering
Service is one of our new core values as an organization, and our entire staff was excited to participate in the first annual Visit Orlando Cares Volunteer Week, which kicked off on Giving Tuesday.
Over the course of three days, we took shifts painting and improving Pathlight HOME’s Maxwell Terrace Apartments in west Orlando. Pathlight HOME — one of the charities supported by Visit Orlando's 2021 Magical Dining program — changes the lives of homeless and low-income individuals by providing affordable housing and economic opportunities.
It was a rewarding experience for our team, and we look forward to more opportunities to serve our community.