One of the most pressing issues in our industry is how the COVID-19 vaccine might impact the recovery of travel.
When will the vaccine be widely available? What effect is it having on traveler sentiment? Will we ever get back to normal?
We've been tracking these and other questions along with our industry partner Destination Analysts. While each day brings new developments and insights, here are the key points to know as of now:
» Two vaccines, each about 95% effective and with no safety concerns, are being distributed in the U.S. by Pfizer and Moderna. Another two are in development from Oxford/Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
» Current theoretical timelines show high-priority groups being vaccinated by May and herd immunity (70% of population) being achieved by October. However, it is anticipated that it might take until this time next year to fully get the pandemic under control.
» Vaccine distribution faces roadblocks, including limitations surrounding cold-storage requirements and higher-than-normal hesitancy from the population about potential side effects.
» There are still questions about whether vaccinated individuals can infect others. Thus, masks and social distancing are still recommended, even for those who have been vaccinated.
» The length of vaccine effectiveness is still unknown; trials are showing at least six months of effective immunity.
Implications for Travel
» Nearly six in 10 American travelers say they expect to take the vaccine (up from under 40% in November), and the majority expect they will receive it by June.
» Perceptions about safety have improved since the first news of Pfizer's vaccine in December, with 65% feeling the vaccine is safe or very safe. Older travelers are more likely to believe it to be safe than younger travelers.
» 51% feel more optimistic about being able to travel safely in the next six months, because of the vaccine news.
» 31% have begun planning/booking future travel in anticipation of a vaccine. This is particularly true for Millennials or younger (43%).
» 50% say they will avoid traveling until the vaccine is widely available.
For more, please view this webinar with leading travel and medical professionals.
A Successful Virtual FAM for Meeting Planners
On Thursday, we wrapped up our three-day "Orlando Awaits You" Virtual FAM for nearly 750 meeting and convention planners. Topics included what's new across our destination, live updates from hotel partners, on-demand content from off-site venues and theme parks, and more.
We're grateful to our many Visit Orlando members who participated, demonstrating how our destination is working together to ensure a safe environment with successful live events. A link to the event's full content will be posted in next week's issue.
More Events Coming to OCCC in Q1
As Visit Orlando and the Orange County Convention Center continue to promote and support safe meetings, our destination is set to host several large events in the next two months, including both public and private conferences. Below are a few of the largest:
This week, our publicity team connected with national journalists across the U.S. via TravMedia's virtual International Media Marketplace, promoting our destination's enhanced safety measures, outdoor attractions, family-friendly adventures and deals.
The publicity team is also securing in-person visits from media and social influencers to show from a first-person perspective the fun (and safety) of an Orlando vacation. To date, we've worked with 35 influencers from key nearby markets, with more than a dozen visiting in the next two months. If your company is interested in hosting media and influencers, be sure you are signed up to receive our marketing leads for PR opportunities, or email us.
National Plan for Vacation Day
This week, in support of National Plan for Vacation Day, our marketing team shared posts across our social channels that encouraged people to visit Orlando, once they feel comfortable doing so. Our Visitor Services team also answered questions from our fans regarding vacation planning in the current environment, including our destination-wide health and safety standards.
Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities
The 32nd annual ZORA!® Festival continues to run through Sunday, with both virtual and in-person programming. Exhibitions, conferences, food and media all honor the life of the famed Eatonville native and acclaimed author, as well as exploring and celebrating African American culture. Saturday's festival highlights include the Taste of Eatonville extravaganza and drive-in movie night double-feature at 100 E. Kennedy Blvd.
Weekly Hotel Metrics
Metro Orlando's occupancy rate for the week ending Jan. 23 was 34.0%, virtually unchanged from 34.2% the previous week. Average daily rate rose $1.30 to $83.38.