ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – More than 200 Orlando tourism industry leaders met for the first time in-person since the pandemic at the Orange County Convention Center with an update from VisitOrlando on their plan to take Orlando’s $75 billion tourism industry from recovery back to record-breaking.
The tourism group hosted the event during National Travel and Tourism Week.
“At VisitOrlando, our main focus is recovery, recovery, recovery,” said Casandra Matej, VisitOrlando’s new CEO and President.
According to VisitOrlando, new research in just ahead of Memorial Day, shows that 87% of U.S. travelers are planning summer travel and more than 50% are considering Orlando.
“People are traveling and people are traveling to Orlando so we have a lot to celebrate,” Matej added.
At the event, tourism data analyst and researcher Erin Francis Cummings broke down data from 1,200 weekly surveys on travel sentiment that have been sent out since the beginning of the pandemic.
Florida is at the top and Orlando is at the top 20 of the destinations travelers want to go to in the U.S, according to the data.
“Your state continues to be one of the top places people say they are heading to this summer,” Cummings said. “Your aspiration for this place is so strong, over half of American travelers feel some likelihood to visit Orlando this year.”
However, her research also breaks down some traveler impediments on what would prevent them from traveling to Orlando this summer, most of it is because of the pandemic. Data showing 31.7% of people are concerned about the large crowds, 28.3% in regards to safety concerns for fear of catching COVID-19 and another 27.1% is due to the pandemic not being over.
“The thing that stood out to me the most is that in order for people to feel comfortable traveling here, still it’s all about safety and security,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings reacting to the new data Tuesday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he will ban vaccine passports in the state and disintegrated any local pandemic-related mandates this week, including the mask mandate in Orange County.
“Our tourism businesses will likely continue to have sanitary protocols in place, that’s what they want to see,” Demings said. “They want to see an abundance of places where they can wash their hands, they want to see employees wearing facial coverings and they want to see people in close proximity that you do not know to be wearing facial coverings.”