Summer travel is usually associated with leisure vacation, especially for Orlando. This summer, meetings and conventions are proving strong, with several conventions reporting increased attendance. Currently, the Amateur Athletic Union's (AAU) 50th Girls' and Boys' Junior National Volleyball Championships are taking place at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) from June 14 to July 4. This is the world's largest volleyball tournament.
Across 21 days, the event is expected to bring in approximately $256.7 million in economic impact to Central Florida, with an estimated 200,000 attendees.
Locally, there continues to be a misperception that virtual and hybrid meetings are taking over in-person events. While this certainly was the case in 2020, three years later I can tell you that meetings are back and growing! According to our research, June is anticipated to bring more than 300,000 in citywide attendance for the area. And from June to August, advance hotel booking pace for the group segment is ahead of the same time last year by 15%.
This year, the North American Veterinary's VMX and the DECA International Career Development Conference both experienced record attendance. Others, such as InfoComm and Coverings, almost doubled attendance from the year prior. And Premier Beauty was up 20%—the second-best attendance ever for the show.
When large groups host their meetings, events and conventions in Orlando, not only does it support business to the OCCC and area hotels, but to the many local businesses, restaurants and attractions throughout Central Florida.
While these numbers are strong, we continue to face increased nationwide competition, with 14 convention centers up for construction expansions. Supporting the OCCC's construction completion project is paramount to sustaining a competitive edge when attracting meetings and conventions, maintaining the lead as America's most visited destination and keeping our rank as the No. 1 meetings destination in the United States.