Our nation is celebrating another milestone on its road to recovery, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently green-lighted travel within the U.S. for fully vaccinated Americans.
Of course, this spells great news for Orlando's tourism industry, and it builds upon some very encouraging developments in our lodging sector.
Most notably, Metro Orlando's occupancy rate set yet another "recovery-era" high last week, coming in at 66.4% — double where we were in January. The average daily rate also broke the pandemic-era record, rising $7.40 to $115.79.
In addition, monthly collections of Orange County's Tourist Development Tax were 34% higher than the previous month, registering $10.2 million for February. Thanks to a strong spring break, we can expect that number to experience a healthy bump when totals are announced for March.
Looking further out, signs on the national level point to a surge in travel this summer and beyond.
According to Destination Analysts, 77% of Americans surveyed have started travel planning in the past week, with 18% having made travel reservations or bookings within that timeframe. A study by Longwoods International says nearly 9 in 10 have travel plans in the next six months, up from 65% in January.
Indeed, the future gets a little brighter every day. And, as you'll read below, Visit Orlando continues to play a leading role in several initiatives designed to aid our destination's full economic recovery.
Orlando's Health and Safety Campaign Nominated for Award
We are thrilled that Orlando's Safer, Stronger, Together campaign — launched last summer to encourage business and resident compliance with COVID-19 safety measures — has been named a finalist for the nation's most prestigious public relations award: the 2021 PRSA Silver Anvil.
A joint effort between Orange County government, Visit Orlando and the Orlando Economic Partnership, the campaign was developed with input from over 100 business and community partners across the region.
Our virtual State of Recovery event was a big success Tuesday, with over 600 registrants and strong media coverage. Participants received the latest industry updates and learned about Visit Orlando's efforts to advance our destination's economic health through research, marketing, communications, and convention sales. Those who missed the webinar can access it here.
I also continue to meet with local media to share updates on the tourism industry. If you're interested in learning more on my thoughts for the future, you might like to check out my recent Q&A with the Orlando Business Journal.
Second Annual #407Day a Hit
This week we celebrated the second annual #407Day in conjunction with Orange County. I hope you were able to participate with a meal from your favorite restaurant! I enjoyed a delicious dinner at Fiorenzo at the Hyatt Regency Orlando with Visit Orlando Board Chair Brian Comes.
Thank you to Mayor Demings and his staff for sharing the news about #407Day at Monday's press conference. Combined with our social channels and publicity outreach to the media, we were successful in making the community aware of this opportunity to support local restaurants and their employees. Fun fact: The restaurant sector makes up 57% of Central Florida's hospitality industry and employs 100,000 people.
Celebrating Meetings & Conventions
I hope you were able to see some of the majestic, blue-lit businesses across our destination last night. Several member companies turned their lights blue to celebrate Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID), and we created a fun video (above) to say thanks to everyone who plays a role in making Orlando the nation's No. 1 overall meetings destination.
Personally, I spent GMID connecting with industry leaders, as I first presented to more than 100 I-Drive Chamber of Commerce members (see photo above), followed by an event for Meeting Professionals International (MPI). After that, I attended Mayor Demings' press conference (below), where he officially proclaimed it Global Meetings Industry Day in Orlando. Thank you, Mayor, for bringing attention to the value of meetings and events in our community.
More Evidence of Our Meetings Industry's Rebound
I have more good news to share from Orlando's meetings Industry: This week, two major convention groups announced they will be relocating to Orlando this year: the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), July 6-10, with an estimated 5,000 attendees, and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Nov. 7-10, with an estimated 10,000 attendees.
These groups join six others that have recently switched cities to Orlando for the second half of 2021, further proof that we continue to lead the way back for the return of safe meetings and events.