In 2018, our destination saw big gains in employment, lodging, tax revenue and air passenger traffic.
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Visit Orlando’s new board chair, Adrian Jones (right), with past board chair Don Engfer.
FROM THE PRESIDENT & CEO
Celebrating an Excellent Year in Tourism
On Thursday, 1,000 leaders across our tourism industry and community gathered for Visit Orlando's Annual Meeting & Luncheon, a fitting way to put the finishing touches on a stellar 2018. We certainly had a lot to celebrate including:
The tourism industry grew at its fastest pace since 2014, adding nearly 13,000 jobs.
The average daily room rate set at an all-time high, occupancy levels continue to be well above state and national averages, and hotel construction is on the rise.
Orange County had its best fiscal year ever for collections of tourist development tax.
And Orlando International – which is now the state’s busiest airport — saw passenger traffic rise more than 5 percent.
Add it all up and it's been a very strong year for Orlando's No. 1 industry. In fact, we fully expect the good news will translate to another historic visitation total for 2018 — but we'll be able to make the official announcement in May during our next signature luncheon event.
Until then, happy holidays, Orlando and all of Orange County! Congratulations on another excellent year.
President & CEO
RESEARCH & INSIGHTS
Exhibition Industry Continues Steady Growth
Growth in the exhibition industry continued during the third quarter of 2018, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. The CEIR Index rose 1 percent, and all four components of the index increased: net square feet (+0.6 percent), exhibitors (+0.1 percent), attendees (+1.1 percent) and real revenues (+2.4 percent). Locally, the Orange County Convention Center had a very strong third quarter, with citywide attendance up 15 percent compared to the same period last year.
VISIT ORLANDO ACTIVITIES
Jones Inducted as
Chair of Visit Orlando
Adrian Jones of Merlin Entertainments USA was inducted as Visit Orlando’s board chair Thursday at the organization’s Annual Meeting & Luncheon. He replaces Don Engfer of Tishman Hotel Corporation, who will stay on as past chair. Newly elected board members include Scott Hudgins (Disney), Thibaut van Marcke (Orlando Health), John Arie Jr. (Fun Spot America) and Paul Mears III (Hello! Destination Management). Board members whose service has ended include Graciela Noriega-Jacoby (Heart of Florida United Way), Chuck Carns (Mears Transportation Group), Peter Kacheris (Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek) and Jim Burns (Grande Lakes Orlando).
Aguel Joins SeaWorld
at HQ Groundbreaking
Visit Orlando President & CEO George Aguel helped SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment break ground Thursday on its new 41,000-square-foot headquarters on Sea Harbor Drive. The building, which will house both park and corporate employees, is projected to open in fall 2019. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey were also part of the ceremony.
Magical Dining Month
Raises Record $251,766
Visit Orlando's 13th annual Magical Dining Month raised a record $251,766 for two local charities: Best Buddies and the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida. Best Buddies creates opportunities for inclusion and one-to-one friendships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida
offers hope, acceptance and empowerment for all individuals with Down syndrome and their families.
Visit Orlando Helps Judge
HS Culinary Competition
More than 250 Orange County high school students participated in the Eighth Annual Hospitality & Culinary Competition at the Orlando World Center Marriott on Nov. 30. Students demonstrated their talents by competing in a variety of contests. Renowned chefs from the local industry, as well as professionals from Disney, Universal, Loews Hotels, Hilton, Darden, Johnson & Wales, UCF Rosen College, Valencia College, AAA National, Visit Orlando and more judged the competition.
Brazilian Tour Operators
Converge on Orlando
Visit Orlando showcased Orlando to 20 tour operators and media during the Brazil Superfam Nov. 3-11. Participants experienced Orlando’s theme parks and entertainment venues, as well as world-class shopping and dining across the destination. In addition, a marketplace and destination training allowed tour operators to network with accommodation and non-theme park members. As a result, our destination was featured in several trade media outlets including Mercado e Eventos, Brasilturis and Panrotas.
Visit Orlando Hosts
Training in Mexico
On Nov. 21, Visit Orlando and its partners held a year-end training event in Mexico City for 160 travel agents, providing them with the knowledge and tools needed to sell our destination. As a result, several media outlets covered the event including Report al Dia, Trafico Magazine, Pasillo Turistico and Invertour.
Engaging with Top
Planners at Events
Visit Orlando’s convention sales team attended the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners’ “Elevate, Educate and Engage” event in New Orleans Nov. 28-29, as well as ConferenceDirect’s Forum Meeting in Huntington Beach Nov. 27-30. These highly attended industry events help Visit Orlando connect with association and corporate planners from across the U.S. and drive future business to our destination.
LGBTQ Magazine Touts
The Visit Orlando publicity team recently secured coverage in the December issue of Passport, a gay travel and culture magazine. The feature article – a result of a recent destination orientation – explored the many sides of Orlando, from quirky to chic, including Walt Disney World Resort, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, ICON Orlando 360, Skeletons: Museum of Osteology, Orlando Starflyer, the Pulse Memorial and Get Up and Go kayaking.
20K Attend Power
Convention at OCCC
The world’s largest power generation event, POWER-GEN International, brought together more than 20,000 attendees and 1,400-plus exhibitors at the Orange County Convention Center Dec. 4-6. POWER-Gen will return to Orlando on even years through 2024.
UK Winter Campaign
Set for Christmas Launch
To influence a key booking period, Visit Orlando will launch its UK and Ireland campaign this month, encouraging families to plan their 2019 holiday to Orlando. More than 263 million impressions will be generated as a result of the integrated, high-frequency media plan, which will run through Jan. 31.
On Saturday, three former board members of Visit Orlando earned “legendary” status as they were inducted into CFHLA's Legends Hall of Fame: they include past chair Pat Engfer (Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress / Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport), past chair Paul Tang (Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress) and Greg Hauenstein (Buena Vista Palace).
IN THE NEWS
TDT Generates $23.7M in October
The Halloween season was a lucrative month for Orange County, as hotel tax revenue jumped 7 percent compared with the same time last year. Read More
I-Drive's Dezerland Ready for Soft Opening
The 1,500-plus car museum in the former Artegon Marketplace is set for a soft opening by Christmas and official grand opening Jan. 15. Read More
Timbers Resorts Brings 80 High-Paying Jobs
Timbers Resorts, which manages properties across the U.S., will employ 80 people with an average salary of at least $92,848. Read More
Meetings in ’19 to Be Longer, See More Attendees
The American Express 2019 Global Meetings & Events Forecast revealed steady and increasing investment in the industry. Read More
VISIT ORLANDO EVENTS
Tuesday, January 8
Visit Orlando Board Room
Orientation is the best first step for both new and existing Visit Orlando members to learn how to take advantage of the value-added services available exclusively to members.