ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond announced on Thursday the county’s Tourist Development Tax collections for March 2022 were 118.2% higher than in March 2021, as well as millions of dollars higher than any monthly collection report published in the last several fiscal years.
Looking back, the March 2022 numbers soar 182% higher than the March 2020 report, indicative that people are surging into Orange County hotels and short-term rental properties in the continued easing of pandemic-era travel restrictions, lockdowns and other COVID-related public health measures.
“...these were the highest monthly collections ever, shattering the previous high set in March 2019 by $7.3 million or 23%!” Diamond said in a statement.
The latest report shows that difference, with March 2022 highlighted as a high-water mark in the ongoing growth period following dismal collections numbers reported when the COVID pandemic reached Florida.
March collections were $38,568,500, about $10.2 million higher month-over-month than in February.
As far as TDT reserves, Diamond said there was a $5.3 million increase in March, another sign of improvement following the expenditure of $118.3 million to-date since the start of the pandemic. Such spending depleted the county’s reserves from $181.3 million to below $40 million as it struggled to meet its own TDT obligations, Diamond said, but the fund now stands at $63 million.
According to the comptroller’s website, the TDT is a 6% tax paid by guests renting or leasing living quarters or other accommodations in Orange County for six months or less.
What the money is spent on is limited by state statute to such expenditures as the acquisition and operation of sports stadiums and museums, tourism advertising and the payment of debt services on construction-related bonds, to name a few examples.
Put into statistics, Diamond cited Visit Orlando to point out Orlando’s hotel occupancy rate in March 2022 was 82.5% higher than February’s 73.7%.
The April TDT report will be released in early June, Diamond said.