Super Bowl won’t be tourism touchdown for Central Florida

Limited capacity, low travel expected for big game

In the past when Tampa hosted Super Bowls, travel experts say thousands of people flocked to Central Florida to extend their vacation, visiting theme parks and resorts.

“Regretfully, it’s going to be different. With COVID, I would suspect we’ll only see hundreds of guests that would be here in Central Florida for the Super Bowl,” said President and CEO of Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association Rich Maladecki.

[TRENDING: Florida debuts new vaccine hotline | Merritt Island-bound plane found in ocean | Titusville man accused of killing mother]

Maladecki said he has spoken with a dozen general managers of hotels near Disney Monday.

“All of them have told me they’re seeing very little interest,” said Maladecki.

Maladecki said COVID has really changed the game plan for the Super Bowl. Instead of the normal 66,000 fans, there will only be 22,000 tickets available. About a third are going to healthcare professionals to honor their work on the frontlines of the pandemic. That leaves only 14,500 ticket-buying fans.

“Bucs fans are mostly living in Tampa, so you’re going to have a little less impact on tourism because of so many hometown fans,” said Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond.

Diamond said even though we may not see as many fans coming from out of state, he’s still optimistic the big game will bring tourists to Central Florida hotels and theme parks.

“Absolutely we’ll get some people. There’s a lot of enthusiasm,” said Diamond. “There’s probably going to be a little less impact, but it’s still a great thing... can I say go Bucs?”

Diamond said Orange County tourism tax revenue still isn’t where it needs to be. The county is dipping into its reserves to fully cover expenses like upkeep for the Orange County Convention Center and contracts with Visit Orlando. He said since last April, there has been a consistent increase, but it will take years to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.

You can watch the Super Bowl on News 6 on Sunday, February 7th.

About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a multimedia journalist who joined the News 6 team in February 2020. Crystal comes to Central Florida from WKMG’s sister station, WJXT in Jacksonville, where she worked as a traffic anchor and MMJ.