The impact of tourism on Orlando's economy continues to grow, and that's reflected by the performance of our hotels in 2019.
TDT Collections Set a Record: $289M in 2019
I'm really happy to report that collections of Orange County's Tourist Development Tax posted yet another record year, generating $289 million in 2019. That's 3.2% more than 2018 and the 10th straight year of growth. The positive results were driven in part by a very good December (+9% over the same month a year ago) and are a testament to the strength of our destination's tourism industry. TDT, a 6% fee levied on short-term rentals, primarily hotels, helps support a variety of community initiatives, including destination marketing, the Orange County Convention Center, and several sports and cultural venues like Camping World Stadium and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Year-End Lodging Statistics Reflect Growth in Hotel Rooms
One factor driving higher TDT collections in 2019 was a 1.1% increase in the average daily rate for a hotel room, which set an all-time high of $126.95. While our market's occupancy rate (76.1%) did decline 2.1% compared to 2018, due to increased inventory of 2,600 new rooms, we far exceeded state (72.3%) and national (66.1%) averages. This year more than 6,000 rooms are expected to come online, raising our total to more than 130,000!
Exploring Orlando's Heritage and Cultural Tourism
As we celebrate Black History Month, I'm reminded of all the unique heritage and cultural experiences visitors and residents can enjoy here in Orlando. For instance, did you know that Eatonville, home to last weekend's 31st annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival, is the nation's oldest incorporated African American municipality? Or that Bronze Kingdom houses over 2,000 pieces of African art? Visit Orlando is proud to work with both of these organizations, and many other industry and community partners, to showcase our destination's diverse offerings.
Convention Center Hosts World's Largest HVACR Marketplace
You might say it was a really "cool" time to be in the Convention District this week (or "red hot," depending on your perspective). That's because more than 50,000 people packed the Orange County Convention Center Feb. 3-5 for the AHR Expo, which caters to professionals in the fields of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration. The expo generated over $128 million in local economic impact and is one of our largest convention events.
» Join hundreds of industry professionals at our annual member networking event, Party at the Pointe, March 5 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Pointe Orlando. Attendees will enjoy appetizers, drinks, desserts and entertainment from venues like Rodizio Grill and Marlow's Tavern. Register here.
I'm happy to share that our annual Visit Orlando employee campaign raised more than $26,000 for Heart of Florida United Way. Visit Orlando Board Chair Adrian Jones joined me last week as we presented the donation to Graciela Noriega Jacoby, chief operating officer at Heart of Florida United Way.