Orange County tourism tax revenue saw first increase since pandemic began

March 2021 TDT collections up nearly 27% compared to last year this time

An iconic six-story tall central ring structure to be the centerpiece of “Harmonious,” the new nighttime spectacular coming to EPCOT, moves into position to begin testing on the theme park’s World Showcase Lagoon, Feb. 27, 2021, at Walt Disney World Resort (Kent Phillips, Walt Disney World)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – For the first time in a year, Orange County reported an increase in tax collections from hotel and resort stays in March.

According to tourism development tax collections in March reported by the Orange County Comptrollers Office Thursday, the period saw a 29.6% increase compared to the same time-period last year.

March 2020 is when the pandemic first arrived in Florida, shutting down theme parks, events and conventions that normally draw millions to Central Florida each year.

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The county collected $17.6 million for March this year. From February to March alone the county reported nearly a 71% increase, indicating a rebound is on the way even if the numbers aren’t on par with pre-pandemic years just yet.

TDT collections are reported a month after the revenue period. On Thursday, Comptroller Phil Diamond shared the good news during a coronavirus update hosted by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

“Obviously, all of this is very positive news. Very good news. Very good news for all those people who rely on the tourism industry for their jobs and for their livelihoods,” Diamond said.

Musicians have started to reschedule their concerts for Orlando-area venues and just this week theme parks including Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando announced they would stop checking temperatures before guests enter the parks.

More than 87% of people in the U.S. are planning to travel this summer and 50% are considering Orlando as their vacation destination, according to data presented by VisitOrlando earlier this week during a National Travel and Tourism Week event.

However, numbers are still not comparable to 2019 pre-pandemic. TDT dollars were above $30 million in March 2020 compared to the $17.6 million collected during the same period this year.

Diamond said March TDT collections have not been this low since 2010.

April TDT numbers will be reported in early June.