As the organization responsible for promoting travel to Orlando, we're ramping up marketing efforts to capitalize on pent-up demand and drive summer visitation.
While in years past, most Americans would have booked summer vacations months in advance, these are entirely different times. Research from Expedia shows that potential travelers are now planning their trips with a "zero to 21 days search window" as they "opt for more opportunistic, short-term tips, often close to home."
Taking advantage of this timeline, Visit Orlando will be extending our successful "The Wonder Remains" campaign to cover a larger geographical footprint, reaching beyond the Southeast drive market and Texas to add the states east of the Mississippi and Texas, including key flight markets.
We're proud to report that "The Wonder Remains" has already generated a 10 to 1 return on ad spend, generating $70 million in visitor spending to date that can be felt across Central Florida. And as more people begin to travel once again, searching for that perfect destination, this campaign will continue to be a smart investment toward Orlando's full recovery.
It has been one year since our lowest point for Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections in Orlando as a result of the pandemic. In that time, we've come a long way in our recovery efforts, and this week's announcement of April 2021 TDT figures certainly reflects that. Year over year, TDT was up 2,040.5%, totaling $17,032,100. Month-over-month, that is only slightly lower than our March 2021 collections, by about $600,200.
On a historic basis, April 2021's collections were 34.2% lower than April 2019's TDT, the last pre-pandemic April month. However, Orlando's monthly hotel occupancy rates continue to grow with April reaching 60.2%, up from March's 57.8%. April's occupancy rate was up 261.5% from the low point of 16.7% in April of 2020. Even in the last week, ending June 5, occupancy rose to 61.8%, up from 58.5% the previous week, while the average daily rate fell just $.61 to $115.10.
Group activity in April helped push occupancy growth as the destination hosted several large shows, from a volleyball tournament to an aviation conference. This should continue to grow as a strong calendar of events is planned for the second half of the year. In sum, April's strong TDT collections, hotel occupancy rates and group activity indicate that Orlando's Tourism industry recovery continues to gain momentum.
We Need YOU to complete the Visit Orlando Survey
Your opinions are vital to the growth and evolution of our destination — and we need your valuable feedback about Orlando today, so that we can plan for the best possible future of our industry. Please make time to share your honest and completely anonymous thoughts in this DestinationNEXT survey by June 30.
Promoting Orlando Through Sports
The Summer of Soccer: Did you know that WalletHub ranks Orlando as one of the country's best cities for soccer fans? It's true, and we're adding to that reputation with plenty of high-profile matches in July, including the Concacaf Gold Cup at Exploria Stadium and the Florida Cup at Camping World Stadium. Read more about how "the beautiful game" will be bringing fans to our destination for a soccer summer to remember.
Inside NY Baseball: Visit Orlando has secured an added-value promotion in Harford, Connecticut — a key Northeast market — on the weekly TV show Inside NY Baseball, airing on WCTX. The show runs for 25 weeks through the baseball season, focusing on the New York Yankees and Mets. Our brand creative and logo will be aired numerous times throughout.
Reminder: Sign Up for Our Industry Insights Roundtable
There's still time to reserve your spot at our Industry Insights Roundtable June 22 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. This session will feature an update from our market research and insights team, followed by discussion with fellow members in the accommodations industry.
Cost: $10 per person. Location: Tru by Hilton Orlando Convention Center Area, 6461 Westwood Blvd.
UK Interest in Orlando
With the return of international travel on the horizon, Visit Orlando has deployed continuous initiatives to drive demand, including media outreach to our top markets across the globe. These efforts recently generated a two-page feature in one of the UK's top newspapers, the Daily Mirror, with testimonials including: "The world's theme park capital never rests on its big-hitting holiday laurels. Even in the face of a pandemic, Orlando is not standing still and is raring to go as restrictions lift inside the Sunshine State."
If you have an interest in hosting media from the UK market when international travel resumes, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit Orlando Wins Best CVB/DMO
I am extremely proud to share that Visit Orlando has been named Best CVB/DMO in the 2021 Smart Meetings Smart Stars Awards. Now in its tenth year, the Smart Stars Awards have become a meeting industry touchstone and continues to be an essential tool for planners worldwide. This year, meeting professionals voted among thousands of properties, choosing Visit Orlando as the top CVB/DMO. We're grateful for the honor, and look forward to assisting many more meeting planners in bringing their events to Orlando.
Orange County Moves to Phase 3, Lifting All Restrictions
During last Friday's State of the County Address with Mayor Jerry Demings, the county's state of emergency was officially lifted. The Mayor shared that, as the Florida Department of Health in Orange County has measured a positivity rate below 5% for 14 consecutive days, we are now in Phase 3, the last in his plan to gradually remove mask and social distancing guidelines. Phase 3 equates to the lifting of all restrictions.
Facemasks may still be required in locations where federal guidelines are observed, i.e. courthouse facilities, public transportation and airports, or inside private businesses. Orange County Government also continues to urge residents to follow CDC guidelines in order to keep the County's positive rate low.
We look forward to the continual return of normal business and increased visitation this announcement will likely facilitate, as visitors feel safe, welcome and at ease in our destination.
Orlando's Celebration of Pride Month Continues
Several of our staff participated in the CommUNITY Rainbow Run on Saturday, benefiting the National Pulse Memorial and Museum and onePULSE Foundation. If you missed it, there are still plenty of events you can join to honor and celebrate Pride Month in Orlando.