ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County’s tourism industry continues to rebound amid the pandemic as summer travelers staying at area hotels brought in more than $21 million in tax dollars for the month of June.
The tourist development tax, also known as TDT dollars collected from hotel and resort stays, for June were the highest reported since the pandemic began last spring, which had devastating financial consequences for Florida’s tourism industry.
“Bottom line is, the numbers were good,” Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said Monday.
June also marked the second month Orange County officials haven’t needed to tap into the county’s reserve funds since the pandemic began, according to the Orange County Comptroller’s Office. The county has used $146 million in reserves to meet its TDT obligations since the pandemic began.
Diamond said even though the county is now adding back to its reserve, funding it is “still not out of the woods.”
In order to replenish county reserves to where they were before the pandemic, Diamond said the county needs to add $1.5 million in surpluses for 96 consecutive months.
“To get back to where we were, that’s about eight years,” he said.
NEW: @occompt says more than 21 million tourism dollars were collected in June. The highest ever since the pandemic. Doesn’t beat record year in 2019. But equivalent to 2017 which Phil Diamond says was a “solid year” @news6wkmg pic.twitter.com/6tSbuUWZfX— Nadeen Yanes (@NadeenNews6) August 9, 2021
TDT collections totaled $21,717,000 for June, a 710% increase since last year for the same period. The intake is also up from May, during which the county reported $16.8 million from hotel stays.
Diamond said the numbers for June aren’t quite near pre-pandemic levels from 2019 but are roughly equivalent to 2017.
This comes as Florida continues to see a spike on COVID-19 cases, impacting events planned in Orange County.
The county already seen cancellations at the Orange County Convention Center, including a global surgical conference and a commercial food service convention. Visit Orlando telling News 6 local hotels are also experiencing a hit with cancellations right now.
“We still will see strong numbers for July, but looking at August and September, we would usually see a dip in travel anyway because of school starting and a lot of people slowing down on leisure travel,” said Visit Orlando CEO Casandra Matej.
Matej said the summer surge was dependent on leisure travelers. Visit Orlando focusing their campaigns on visitors from the northeast and southeast markets due to international travel restrictions.
“The fact that we haven’t really had international travel has impacted us, however we’ve been able to make it up with the domestic traveler so that’s been bolstered at least through the summer,” said Matej.
Matej said with the recent spike in covid cases, she doesn’t expect international travel to be back in full force until late next year into 2023.