Thanksgiving weekend brings business to some I-Drive spots -- but not as much as experts had hoped

Rest of holiday season could be ‘equally as strong, if not stronger,’ expert says

ORLANDO, Fla. – Following the Thanksgiving holiday, some hotels in the area of International Drive said they saw an uptick in occupancy.

One hotel said they were sold out on Friday, with others that said they were 70-75% full over the weekend.

But Keri Burns, the regional director of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association of Central Florida, said the holiday wasn’t good news for everyone.

“The larger hotels, that would be your conference, convention center-type hotels, they did not see the increase they were expecting to see on the holiday week,” said Burns.

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Burns said both hotels and restaurants along I-Drive didn’t do as well as expected over the Thanksgiving holiday, especially in comparison to other hotels in Central Florida.

“Smaller hotels, especially those closer to Disney and Universal, the theme park-area hotels, they definitely saw an uptick. In fact, I was so excited to hear that over Thanksgiving weekend, some of our properties had 85% occupancy,” Burns said.

She said in terms of the restaurants, the ones that did well over the holiday were the ones with strong delivery presence.

Phil Diamond, Orange County’s comptroller, said for the month of September, the county brought in tourist development tax collections of more than $7 million, which is a 60% decrease from the same time last year.

News 6 asked Sean Snaith, the director of the Institute for Economic Forecasting in the College of Business at the University of Central Florida, if the Thanksgiving holiday is any indication of what we may see during Christmas.

“If Thanksgiving was strong, I would expect the rest of the holiday season to be equally as strong, if not stronger,” Snaith said.

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