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February 16, 2024


I've long said that the travel and tourism industry is impacted by everything. Today, economists are predicting slower GDP growth for 2024 as the U.S. economy continues to adjust in terms of inflation, interest rates, employment, and wage growth. So, what does this mean for our industry? The anticipated slowdown could influence how American consumers approach travel and prioritize travel in their household budget. It is no surprise that the cost is one of the main reasons consumers skip trips, and that concern amplifies going into an election year.

National travel trends: In 2023, open borders and strong U.S. dollar caused Americans to pack their bags and passports for international destinations. That trend continues this year, with 33% of travelers expressing their intent to embark on international journeys within the next 12 months. This puts pressure on domestic destinations, including Orlando.

What it means for Orlando: As a country and as a destination, we are still rebuilding our international visitor volume to pre-pandemic levels. International markets are reporting strong aspirations for U.S. travel, but the rising cost and the variety of choices from around the globe mean that Orlando needs to stand out above all. So far, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Colombia, and the United Kingdom are reporting substantial year-over-year increases in direct lift to Orlando through the first half of the year. Airline ticket booking activity through January also points to a solid interest in Orlando.

Overall, STR, a global hospitality data benchmarking and analytics company, projects a 3.2% increase in Orlando's hotel demand compared to 2023. The Average Daily Rate is expected to grow by 3% year over year.

While these early predictions are positive for our destination, the continued interest in international travel for domestic travelers and the tightening up on budgets mean we must break through the competition clutter and inspire consumers to choose Orlando.

What we're doing: Your Visit Orlando team is off to a strong start with our Winter Doesn't Exist running in three key markets (U.S., UK and Canada), we just announced popular Netflix show "Somebody Feed Phil" will air a dedicated Orlando episode in the new Season 7 dropping on March 1 and our team has hit the ground running attending major industry events like PCMA Convening Leaders and Florida Huddle to stay top of mind with clients.

We'll continue to stay nimble with our plans, using our new 2024 – 2026 strategic plan as our guide to bring us closer to our vision of being the most welcoming and inclusive travel destination in the world.

Promoting Local Historic Gem to Celebrate Black History Month

Visit Orlando partnered with Bo Outlaw, Orlando Magic community ambassador, to showcase the Wells'Built Museum of African American History & Culture in a variety of content pieces for our social media channels. The Wells'Built Museum, located in historic Parramore, is a reminder of the cultural heritage that has played a significant role in shaping Orlando's identity. Our team is proud to be involved in celebrating and appreciating the diversity that enriches our community. Watch the video of our team members exploring the museum with Bo.

SushiSaint. Photo courtesy of Fernando Delgado - EightySix Media

Five Orlando Restaurants Join the MICHELIN Guide's Florida Selection

Congratulations to five Orlando restaurants newly added to the MICHELIN Guide's 2024 Florida Selection. With these new additions, Orlando now has 51 restaurants recognized by Michelin. Orlando's culinary offerings continue to grow, and this is another reason why Orlando is Unbelievably Real! The dining venues include:

  • Zaru — Japanese Cuisine
  • Sushi Saint — Japanese Cuisine
  • Natsu — Japanese Cuisine
  • Camille — Vietnamese Cuisine
  • Chuan Fu — Chinese Cuisine

Data & Trends

Metro Orlando occupancy for the week ending February 10, 2024, was 75%, which was flat from the prior week but down 3.8% from the same week last year. Average Daily Rate for the week was $222.02, which was up from the prior week's $209 and up 4.6% from the same week last year. Demand trailed the prior year by 3.2%.

Across the Industry

CFHLA Foundation Scholarship:
The Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association Foundation is now accepting applications for its CFHLA Employee & Family Member Scholarships. Applicants must be the family member or employee of a CFHLA lodging member establishment or a CFHLA Allied Member Company. Additionally, the CFHLA Foundation offers students pursuing a degree, minor, or certificate at Central Florida Hospitality & Culinary Programs—to advance Hospitality Education. For more details, click here.

Florida Museum of Black History Task Force Public Survey: The Department of State recently distributed a Florida Museum of Black History Task Force Public Survey. The survey was created to gather stakeholder input on the proposed Florida Museum of Black History. Please consider providing your valuable feedback before the survey closes on Feb. 29.

Orlando Business Conditions Survey: The Orlando Economic Partnership is conducting its quarterly Orlando Business Conditions Survey, which helps its team understand the economic environment we all operate in. The survey is open to all businesses in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake Counties and helps inform programs that address local needs. Please consider participating by sharing your insights on local business performance, challenges and opportunities.

Around the Destination

Photos courtesy of Orange County Public Schools

Culinary Competition: Visit Orlando has been a long-standing supporter of the Central Florida Hospitality Career Academies, a program dedicated to fostering a pipeline of young, talented individuals and shaping the future leaders of our industry. High school students from Orange County recently participated in the annual Culinary Competition hosted at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Nearly 200 students participated in diverse culinary events and had the opportunity to attend chef demonstrations and gain insights into the exciting realms of culinary arts and careers in tourism. A special thanks to several Visit Orlando members who participated and were sponsors of the event!

Visit Orlando team members Maria Henson, Kristin Westover and Elaine Blazys join industry professionals and community leaders at the West Orange Chamber of Commerce's Big Orange Awards. They include Jason Henry, Congressman Maxwell Frost's Office; Elizabeth Watkins and Steven Miller, Walt Disney World; Maria Triscari, I-Drive Chamber of Commerce; and Rich Delange, Jim Forrester and Sarah Nemes, United Parks & Resorts.

Big Orange Awards: Last weekend, our team had the opportunity to attend the 2024 Big Orange Awards hosted by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce. The event honors individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions improving the West Orange business community. A heartfelt congratulations goes out to Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles for receiving the esteemed 'Spirit of West Orange' Award, and kudos to all other well-deserving honorees!

President & CEO of Greater Orlando Sports Jason Siegel moderates the 2024 Business of Sports panel. The panelists include Steve Hogan, Florida Citrus Sports; Allen Johnson, Orlando Venues; Terry Mohajir, UCF; Jessica Beers, Kissimmee Sports Commission; Danny Trosset, Office of Economic Development and Tourism; and Ryan DeVos, Orlando Squeeze.

OBJ Business of Sports: Yesterday, Visit Orlando joined community leaders, stakeholders and decision-makers at the 2024 Business of Sports panel discussion at Camping World Stadium's Varsity Club. President & CEO of Greater Orlando Sports Jason Siegel moderated a panel discussing the recent investments in Camping World Stadium, Kia Center, UCF and other projects. Central Florida's sports landscape is growing with new investment and development of professional, collegiate, amateur and youth sports projects, paving the way for future business opportunities in the region. At Visit Orlando, we are committed to boosting our destination's reputation as a prime city for sporting events through continued partnerships and strategic marketing initiatives that will help us attract athletes, fans and visitors from around the world. 

Pictured L to R: Kelly Cohen, Southern Group; Casandra Matej, Visit Orlando; Kate Wilson, Wells Fargo; Stephanie Howell, Valencia College; Shannon Gravitte, Advent Health; Anne Marie Hayward, Orlando Business Journal; Christine Kefauver, Brightline; and Beth Thibodaux, Disney Signature Experiences.

Shaq Jersey Retirement Ceremony: Visit Orlando joined Advent Health team members at the Orlando Magic Game on Tuesday, honoring Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq becomes the first Magic player to have his jersey retired with number 32 now a permanent feature in the rafters of the Kia Center. Click here to watch a recording of the ceremony.

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