‘Only time will tell:’ Orange County leaders worry rising gas prices will impact tourism

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – With the gas prices shattering a record high on Tuesday, concerns are rising about the impact it will have on Central Florida tourism.

Local leaders have been looking forward to a big increase in travel after the previous two years were filled with COVID shutdowns and restrictions. Now, expectations are being tempered as the crisis in Ukraine is fueling a surge in gas prices.

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“This is a bad thing for Orange County tourism,” Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said. “It’s obviously a bad thing, generally. The whole war, all the issues with fuel prices.”

Diamond said as gas continues to rise, there will be tough decisions for families when it comes to travel.

“It affects their lives. They’re paying more every other week of the year, not just the week they’re on vacation,” Diamond said.

Despite the higher prices, the outlook for the spring and summer isn’t necessarily grim.

Tourism expert Dr. Abraham Pizam said pent up demand from the pandemic will likely mean more families will keep their travel plans in place.

“In this case, I believe people will pay more, but will not stop coming,” Pizam said.

Local leaders are hopeful the situation improves and trying to remain optimistic.

“I hope there’s still going to be a very good recovery, but sure, this is a bump in the road,” Diamond said. “As far as how much of an impact, only time will tell.”

About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.