You might have seen the big news today that, in November, the United States will reopen our borders to overseas travelers who have received COVID-19 vaccines.
This long-awaited milestone in our nation's management of the virus holds considerable promise for Orlando's tourism industry, especially as it relates to welcoming back visitors from the United Kingdom and Brazil.
The UK and Brazil are two of our top overseas markets, accounting for about 30% of international visitation each year before the pandemic — and international visitors spend more than $6 billion here annually. Our research confirms that these countries, and others, are experiencing tremendous pent-up travel demand, and Orlando is poised to capitalize.
For the past several months, our team at Visit Orlando has been in close contact with key travel professionals in several international markets, keeping them excited about our latest developments here in the Theme Park Capital of the World.
We have already launched marketing campaigns in many of our key markets this fall, including the UK and Mexico, and will continue to ramp up our efforts with both marketing and travel trade support leading to the border reopening.
While we can't closely predict how the border reopening will impact travel in November specifically, we know historically that international travelers plan for warm destination escapes in the winter months. Supporting this, international seat capacity at Orlando International Airport is projected to increase significantly in late 2021 and early 2022.
For context, you might be wondering how this news affects our land border policy with Canada, Orlando's top international market. While the Biden administration said there would be no immediate changes, we are hopeful this will also be addressed soon, as Canadians are actually a sizable source of drive-market travel to Orlando. To prime that pump, we've launched a "plan now" campaign in Canada that encourages spring travel.
As you might imagine, today's announcement has been trumpeted near and far, with positive reactions on the international and domestic fronts. Journalists the world over are focusing their attention on Orlando, and our publicity team is leveraging this energy to keep our destination top of mind.
Looking ahead, I'm encouraged that this will be a major turning point in our road to a full economic recovery. While it's true that the bulk of Orlando's visitation comes within the U.S., it's also true that international travelers stay longer and spend more money than the average visitor, generating outsized economic impact that enhances everyone's quality of life.
Please join me, Orlando, in welcoming back international visitors with open arms!
In your service,
Casandra Matej | President & CEO Visit Orlando
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The Official Tourism Association® of the No. 1 destination in the U.S.