ORLANDO, Fla. – The Central Florida hospitality industry seems to be bouncing back from the havoc the pandemic caused in 2020, according to research by Rosen College of Hospitality.
“What we have seen is basically what we expected based on our research back in early summer,” Robertico Croes, the associate dean of the college said. “Particularly the theme parks have been an important attraction to metro Orlando and Central Florida so that is what we’ve seen. We have seen a surge in traffic at MCO, we have seen a surge in demand at hotels.”
During the holiday season, attractions like Disney World and Universal theme parks hit 35 percent capacity; a sign researchers said showed the industry is starting to recover.
“We expect an uptick which means a surge based on demand from the leisure travel and that will go very very quickly as we move with more and more with the administration of the vaccine,” Croes said. “Metro Orlando consists of leisure travel but also business travel. So what we will see is a continuous steady improvement in leisure travel.”
Croes added theme park attendance serves as a good barometer of what to expect for the future of Central Florida’s tourism and economy. But the same can’t be said for the business industry. Croes believes there’s still a long way to recovery and go back to how businesses operated prior to COVID-19.
“The pandemic has changed dramatically the way we do business, the way business is communicated with each other and so on,” he said. “What we will not see is that same speed of recovery in business travel. That will take longer. It may be at the end of 2022 or early 2023.”
In a statement Visit Orlando said:
Domestic visitation will recover prior to the return of international visitation. Travel is predicted to gain momentum starting the summer of 2021, assuming a successful rollout of the vaccine by end of the second quarter. By 2021, Orlando’s hotel demand is forecasted to grow 55% which will bring it to 67% of the pre-pandemic level.