"America needs a safe place where residents can go to exhale. … What we have endeavored to do here is to be that place."
These words by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, spoken at a recent meeting of the county's Tourist Development Council, certainly ring true.
Indeed, our tourism industry's careful, deliberate actions have helped Orlando safely reopen to visitors, supporting our region's economy and putting thousands of residents back to work.
Along these lines, I'm encouraged by a CNN story this week reporting that county health officials have not seen any coronavirus outbreaks associated with the reopening of our theme parks. This piece of news, along with the positive experiences shared by so many of our visitors, added evidence the world is watching our progress.
As a destination, it's crucial we keep our momentum heading in a positive direction. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, please remember that everyone has a role to play: Wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance.
Research shows that "pandemic etiquette" is becoming even more mainstream in America. More than 8 in 10 now agree that people should wear face masks in public, and almost 9 in 10 say they are putting care into ensuring they are social distancing. This certainly aligns with what we're emphasizing here in Orlando, where our tourism community has been at the forefront of enacting industry-leading health and safety measures.
This marked the first week of Orange County's new "strike teams," created to ensure businesses are following county requirements for keeping COVID-19 in check. Of 250-plus locations visited, over 80% were in compliance with the county's mask mandate. Of those not in compliance, many did not have proper signage or floor markings to help patrons properly social distance. Businesses in need of COVID-related resources from the county can gather more information here.
All eyes are on Hurricane Isaias this weekend as it approaches Florida's east coast. Visit Orlando is working closely with the Orange County Office of Emergency Management and ready to serve our industry and community should we need to activate our crisis response system. The system tracks hotel room inventory for evacuees from Florida's coastal areas. To update your company's emergency contact, please email our member relations team; for additional resources, please access the county's Hurricane Safety Guide.
World's Top Amusement Parks: In yet another testament to our destination's global appeal, Tripadvisor released its annual Travelers' Choice awards this week. Four of the world's top five amusement parks are in Orlando, as rated by the website's reviews, ratings and saves. Topping the list is Magic Kingdom Park, followed by Universal's Islands of Adventure (3), Disney's Animal Kingdom (4) and Universal Studios Florida (5).
"Marketing that Brings Meetings" Webinar: Join us Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 1 p.m. for our "Marketing that Brings Meetings" webinar with Myha Gallagher, director of research for Destination Analytics. Discussion will include insights from meeting planners and attendees, as well as top desired experiences for live and virtual meetings. Click here to register. View our previous webinars, full of current industry insights, research and best practices, here.
Tourism Strategies for Recovery: On Wednesday, Visit Orlando's Elaine Blazys, associate vice president of travel industry sales, participated in a virtual panel for more than 150 buyers, suppliers, hoteliers and tour operators. Hosted by Hotelbeds, the webinar offered insight into recovery strategies for tourism to the United States from panelists including Visit California, NYC & Company, New Orleans & Company and Destination DC.
Hotel Metrics: Metro Orlando's occupancy rate for the week ending July 25 was 32.0%, up from 30.1% the previous week and our highest level since the pandemic. Average daily rate fell $1.24 to $85.61. This past weekend's occupancy was 40.4%, which surpasses even our July 4 weekend (38.4%).
Positive Air Travel Experiences: Despite most Americans not planning on traveling via airplane until at least next year, those who have done so recently (11.3% of Americans) rate their experience as positive. Nearly 3 in 4 were satisfied with the health and safety protocols put in place by their airline and airport.
COVID's Impact on Travel: The U.S. travel economy has lost $297 billion since the beginning of March, when COVID-19 first impacted the nation, compared to the same period last year. Total travel spending in Florida was $1.08 billion for the week of July 18, which was a drop of 50% from the same period last year but an increase of $21 million from last week.