As National Travel & Tourism Week draws to a close, we at Visit Orlando want to thank everyone who joined us in uplifting this year's theme, "The Power of Travel."
In today's climate, tourism is more critical than ever to restore our local economy, rebuild jobs and reconnect Orlando with the world. That's why we spent the week celebrating our industry's incredible workers and encouraging residents to explore their own backyard. In all, we promoted the power of travel across 24 digital billboards, 98 radio spots, a blog post and two paid social posts, reaching millions of people in Orlando and beyond.
As summer nears, several positive indicators for increased travel are on the horizon, and we're building on that momentum by keeping Orlando top of mind for vacations, staycations or even just weekend excursions. Read more about our efforts below.
A Successful Return to In-Person Events
Visit Orlando's Travel & Tourism Event, our first face-to-face gathering in over a year, was a fantastic success, with 460 in-person and virtual attendees. I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to (finally!) meet so many of our member partners, and I hope to meet more of you soon. For those unable to attend, a recording of Tuesday's event is available here. Thank you to our sponsors (below) and their in-kind donations — this event would not have been possible without you.
More Positive News from Our Lodging Sector
Fueled by a strong spring break season, Orange County's Tourist Development Tax collections for March grew to $17.6 million, a 26.9% increase from March 2020 and the largest monthly gain (70.9%) since the start of the pandemic. The Tourist Development Tax is a 6% fee on overnight stays.
Coupled with continued vaccine rollout and recently relaxed CDC guidelines around social distancing, we are increasingly optimistic about the future of tourism and our economy.
In more good news, metro Orlando's occupancy rate for the week ending May 1 was 58.2%, up from 54.8% the previous week. Average daily rate rose $4.82 to $109.63. Above you can see how occupancy and demand have performed over the past year in comparison to average demand in 2019 (76%).
The Numbers Are in for Our Virtual Consumer Trade Show
In March, an amazing collaboration between Visit Orlando, our member companies and the community resulted in the nation's first-ever virtual consumer trade show focused solely on a destination. Together, we provided an innovative way for people to explore all the diverse reasons to visit Orlando, highlighting our theme parks, attractions, arts and cultural venues, sports, ecotourism and dining.
More than 11,000 consumers from across the U.S. registered for the show — with key markets including Florida, Texas, New York and Georgia — and it generated more than 100 media stories. Nearly 9 in 10 participants said they learned something new, and 52% reported they were more likely to visit Orlando after seeing the show.
Vote for an Orlando Animal to Take Flight on Frontier Airlines
Voting is now open for which Orlando animal will adorn the tail of a Frontier Airlines aircraft, thanks to a new campaign between Frontier Airlines, Visit Orlando and four of our animal-centric members. In addition to promoting visitation, the campaign highlights conservation efforts and some of Florida's most iconic animal species.
The choices are:
Ella, a Florida black bear from the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Flurry, Wild Florida's albino alligator
Larry, Gatorland's American alligator
Ted, a loggerhead turtle from SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium.
Ten lucky winners will receive $400 in flights to Orlando on Frontier, the airline that offers the most nonstop flights to our destination.
Nominations for the 2021 Stella Awards
I'm pleased to share that tourism companies across our destination are up for yet another round of awards, including Visit Orlando for Best CVB/DMO in the Southeast.
The Stella Awards by Northstar Meetings aim to honor businesses and organizations that have provided exemplary service and demonstrated unwavering support through difficult circumstances. Finalists are determined by an open public voting period, while winners will be selected by an expert panel of judges overseen by the editors of Northstar Meetings Group's Meetings & Conventions and Successful Meetings.
If you would like to support Orlando's nominees, vote by May 14, 2021.
Free Vaccination Events
Hilton Orlando: A pop-up vaccination clinic is open to all hospitality employees at the Hilton Orlando, in partnership with the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Both the Pfizer (two doses) and Johnson & Johnson (one dose) vaccines will be offered, no appointments required, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, as well as May 10-14. Those receiving the Pfizer vaccine can schedule their second dose at the time of their first shot.
Amway Center: The Orlando Magic are also a hosting a mass vaccination event in partnership with AdventHealth and the city of Orlando to provide 2,300 vaccinations May 13. The site is offering the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to any eligible Floridians who sign up for an appointment through AdventHealth's portal. Vaccinations will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Magic's home arena, in the GEICO garage. Those who receive the vaccine will be scheduled for a second shot on June 10.