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Visit Orlando

August 21, 2020


You might have seen in the news today that, after over seven years as president and CEO of Visit Orlando, and 46 years in the tourism industry, 30 of them in Orlando, I have announced my upcoming retirement. 

More details will be shared in the coming days about my transition, but this is a decision I've been considering for some time. As a newly minted 67-year-old grandfather, and with a wife who has been more patient than I deserve, there's nothing I look forward to more than spending as much quality time as possible with my family and loved ones. For all of us, I am sure, 2020 has certainly been a year that has made clear how precious life and family are.

While at Visit Orlando, I've been blessed to work alongside so many wonderful member companies and talented industry professionals. Together, we've helped our destination reach new heights on the global stage — and I'm confident that success will continue. It has been my honor and pleasure to serve and work with all of you in our industry, as well as community partners and elected leaders.

Magical Dining

I'm excited to remind you that Visit Orlando's Magical Dining kicks off a week from today, offering $35 three-course meals at dozens of our community's finest restaurants. 

The program runs Aug. 28 to Oct. 4 and features restaurants going above and beyond with new health and safety measures, as well as options for outdoor seating, takeout and delivery. As always, $1 from each meal also goes to support a local charity.

Already, our publicity team has secured 20-plus stories on Magical Dining, including coverage in print, digital, social, radio and TV. In the words of one reporter, "It'll take more than a global pandemic to stop Visit Orlando's Magical Dining" — a statement that accurately reflects the hard work and resiliency of our hospitality industry, including the Visit Orlando team, during these difficult times. 

Visit our Magical Dining website today to review the wide variety of menus. While you're there, I highly encourage you to make reservations, as restaurants are operating at limited seating capacity. 

Bon appétit! 

Feed the Need

I'm also pleased to share that this year's Magical Dining charity recipient is Feed the Need Florida, which helps people struggling to access healthy food during the COVID-19 crisis. Also, as a new twist, we're allowing diners to increase their $1 donation, if so desired.

Feed the Need is led by Orlando-based 4Roots, the charitable foundation founded by John Rivers of the 4R Restaurant Group, plus public and private partners. Their goal is to support Florida farmers, preserve and create jobs, and prepare nutritious meals to be served throughout Central Florida.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Feed the Need has served more than 1 million meals, and I'm proud that we're in a position to further increase that number. 
Looking at the big picture, what I like most about Magical Dining is its positive benefit for all. Residents get to enjoy fine dining at a value, local businesses can put employees to work, and Central Florida residents in need will receive support from a wonderful charity.

Off to Orlando

Our Off to Orlando state-cation campaign launched in mid-July and is being heavily promoted through our e-newsletters, website, and social and publicity channels. The campaign has reached more than 2.5 million consumers and continues to funnel strong traffic to our Off to Orlando landing page. If you're a Visit Orlando member who'd like to share a great Florida-resident offer, be sure to submit your information at

Tourism Research & Insights

Hotel Metrics: Metro Orlando's occupancy rate for the week ending Aug. 15 was 29.9%, slightly up from 29.6% the previous week. Average daily rate fell $4.94 to $80.25. Weekend occupancy levels continued to be a bright spot, coming in at 40.5% for Friday and Saturday nights. 

Leisure Travel Plans: According to a recent study by Destination Analysts, 76% of Americans have at least one leisure trip planned between now and the end of 2021. However, only 32.4% expect to be traveling this fall, with October being the most likely month. With respect to the holidays, expectations to travel trend upward for later periods of the year: Labor Day (12.6%), Thanksgiving (15.8%) and Christmas (20%). 


Magical Dining returns Aug. 28 with new takeout, outdoor dining options 

Florida's tourism industry sees improvement in early August 

Orlando ranked No. 1 for Best Small Town for a Quick Getaway 

Slow and steady improvement in June traffic at OIA 

WWE to Establish 'ThunderDome' Residency in Orlando's Amway Center 

Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association CEO Rich Maladecki to retire

Stay safe, everyone.

George Aguel
President & CEO

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