Visit Orlando president says ‘it’s time to be optimistic’ about tourism in Central Florida

Visit Orlando hosts ‘State of Recovery’ Address

ORLANDO, Fla. – One year after the incredible economic fall out to Orlando’s $75 billion tourism industry caused by the global pandemic, Visit Orlando’s new president Casandra Matej hosted a “State of Recovery” address to tourism leaders on Tuesday.

“We are so glad you can join us today as we take a deep dive on how our destination is rebounding from the economic fall out of COVID-19,” Matej said opening the virtual address.

The event featured a snapshot on how Orlando’s tourism and leisure industry, which makes up 41% of the economy, is recovering by starting with a strong spring break.

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According to Daryl Cronk, Visit Orlando’s Director of Market Research and Insights the area is in the middle of spring break season in Orlando, which is defined as the two weeks before and after Easter. Cronk said currently, Orlando-area hotels are booked at 66% occupancy, the highest amid the pandemic. Compare that to numbers released by Visit Orlando earlier in the year showing the week of Christmas hotel occupancy was about 51%.

“Spring break occupancy rates more than doubled where they were earlier in the year,” Cronk said. “The great performance for spring break has raised expectations for what we might be able to achieve in summer.”

Another indicator of a stronger recovery in the summer is airport travel and future flights. According to the Orlando International Airport, in March Orlando was the top destination in the U.S., with TSA screening more than 8.7 million people the week of March 21.

Visit Orlando officials said airlines are also planning on adding more flights, which shows traveler demand to Orlando is growing.

“Notice by June and July, seat capacity is running ahead of 2019, pre-Covid level,” Cronk said during the presentation. “The fact the airlines have loaded them into schedules and made them available suggests they have seen demand and are confident in the recovery taking place in Orlando.”

Couple that consumer sentiment and traveler demand with the vaccine rollout and Matej says Orlando is in for a promising summer.

“Nearly 40% of American travelers have already received at least one vaccine shot, I think that is absolutely key,” Matej said. “We are on the road to recovery, so we have to be mindful but it’s time to be optimistic.”

Even though conventions and business meetings are coming back faster than expected and faster than other cities in the U.S. according to Visit Orlando, market indicators don’t show a full recovery with the business side or international travel until 2023.