As all eyes remain on the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, both globally and closer to home, here are some recent developments impacting our destination.
For Orlando, the most important news is that no cases of coronavirus have been discovered locally. With a very small number of cases in other parts of the state, however, the global media has started to focus more attention on our destination.
Visit Orlando has been working closely with our government officials, health authorities and industry partners to communicate the preparedness of the destination to our clients, visitors and residents.
At a press conference Monday, I joined Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and several government leaders and community health officials to discuss our region's preparedness and response. Together, Orlando's leadership has a wealth of experience across many external crises, and we continue working in unison with our industry partners to address this most recent threat.
Regarding leisure visitation, our destination has experienced no significant impact, and federal officials maintain the American public faces low immediate risk. At the same time, our theme parks and attractions, as well as the Convention Center and Orlando International Airport, have further increased their already rigorous safety measures with added sanitation, disinfecting, medical support and employee education.
From a business travel perspective, this week the Convention Center saw its first cancellations, and some smaller, in-hotel meetings — mostly technology companies headquartered on the West Coast — have also rescheduled or changed plans. The most notable cancellation was the HIMSS Global Health Conference, slated to begin next week at the Convention Center with 42,000 attendees. We are, however, maintaining a strong calendar of events for the reminder of the year, with over 90 major shows.
On a national scale, a recent study shows that nearly 90% of U.S. travelers have yet to cancel plans due to the virus. For context, a benefit to our region is that over 91% of Orlando's visitors come from within the U.S, and we do not have direct air service to any country currently under a coronavirus-related travel advisory. We are also receiving inquiries from U.S.-based travel groups looking to reschedule their international plans to a domestic destination.
For our visitors, we have added a page on our website with information on the destination's preparedness, helpful resources and a FAQ.
For our members, we have added information and resources to our member portal website.
Our team has been busy responding to client and media inquiries regarding the destination, and we are happy to assist you with these needs. For help with media inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If we can be of assistance in any other capacity, please email email@example.com.
AROUND THE DESTINATION
Tourist Development Tax Up Nearly 10% in January
Orlando's lodging sector recorded an excellent start to the year, as collections of Orange County's Tourist Development Tax reached $25.7 million in January, 9.8% higher than the same month in 2019. The 6% tax is paid by guests staying in short-term rentals, primarily hotels. Last year, it brought in a record $289 million for the county.
Helping Visitors Experience Orlando Like an Insider
You might recall that, a few months ago, our team of "MORlando Challenge" adventurers discovered it takes 121 days to experience our entire destination. Now, we've compiled their journey into a special Visit Orlando Insider webpage filled with videos, expert advice and essential vacation-planning resources. It's a great way to showcase the depth and breadth of America's most visited destination.
OTHER NEWS FROM VISIT ORLANDO
» Danielle Hollander, our chief marketing officer, spoke to 50 industry professionals today as part of the Tourism Orlando leadership program. Participants learned how Visit Orlando is branding, marketing and selling our destination to attract leisure consumers and convention groups.
» In Mexico, we've launched a media campaign to keep Orlando top of mind during a key planning and booking period. Running through June, the campaign will integrate digital display, video, social media, content distribution and search engine marketing.