Halloween Kicks Off the Season for Events

From adult-size scares to kid-friendly frights, Orlando is now the "Halloween Capital of the World" with more than 130 events spread out over a two-month celebration. There are haunted houses with cinematic-worthy effects and ghoulish parties, and not so scary ones, for kids of all ages. In fact, we are planning to host one of the nation's largest horror conventions, Spooky Empire. All in all, Orlando has created a Halloween experience with a scale and sophistication like nowhere else - giving travelers every reason to come and making what used to be child's play a serious destination draw.

We know that visitors come to enjoy our world-class theme parks and attractions, but fall kicks off a season where guests also experience more events than at any other time of the year. It all begins with Halloween where zombie walks and spooky forests, trick or treating and even a fright-filled ballet make the Orlando experience even bigger and better. This is also the time of year where we welcome many world-class food festivals - which lead up to Orlando's premier holiday events.

While many destinations have settled into off-peak periods, our stellar seasonal events provide travelers with an even greater incentive to visit and explore all that is new. Social media channels, blogs and publicity efforts showcase the excitement and bring the story to life. So whether it's the highest percentage of adults-only travelers that we will see all year or families who are looking to treat the kids to a Halloween like no other, there are plenty of reasons we can expect this fall season to be nothing short of spectacular.


IAAPA Heads Home to Orlando

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) plans to relocate its global headquarters to Orlando. Beginning in 2017, the largest trade association for the $39 billion worldwide attractions industry intends to move from its current location in Alexandria, Virginia, to our community.

With the leadership support of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, the IAAPA board of directors agreed that moving their international headquarters to Orlando will make it easier for members from around the world to connect with each other as well as with industry suppliers and innovators. As the theme park capital of the world, Orlando is the epicenter of tourism activity and creativity, and we are proud to welcome the IAAPA team and know they will feel right at home.

In addition to being the new home for IAAPA, Orlando will also continue to play host to the organization's annual conference and trade show. The agreement to hold the expo here has now been extended through 2030; five years beyond our current agreement. In total, Orlando will serve as host of this event for 20 years! Each year the convention draws more than 30,000 tourism-related attendees and since the early 2000s has generated over $1 billion in economic impact.


Kicking Off to Fall

As we headed into Labor Day, those of us in the tourism industry had every reason to be optimistic. Not only was airport passenger traffic and convention center attendance on the rise, but tourist tax collections this summer were also nearly two percent higher than last year, putting the destination on pace for record collections. While it's true that occupancy levels have softened when compared to 2015's banner performance, they remain higher than every other year since 1998 and average daily rates are at an all-time peak as well.

Coming on the heels of this good news we entered the final weekend of summer travel and Labor Day gave us much to be excited about. Not only did occupancy climb 5.8 percent over last year, but demand for room nights also rose by 7.3 percent. Plus, with Orlando playing host to the sellout FSU/Ole Miss showdown, the destination extended the impact of the weekend with the additional demand for Monday night stays, resulting in a 16.4 percent rise in ADR.

All in all, it was a great way to cap off our summer and usher in the high-paced fall and holiday seasons. All indicators are pointing to a healthy end to 2016 with Halloween, the winter holidays and New Year's just around the corner. As temperatures drop, enthusiasm is on the rise for Orlando's new attractions, extensive convention line up and exciting winter-themed events - all of them reasons for us to anticipate another positive fourth quarter.


Indicators Point to Fall Growth

As our industry turns our attention toward the second half of 2016, there are some bright spots on the horizon. Tourist tax collections, convention center attendance and airport passenger traffic are all higher than last year. In addition, several indicators are suggesting improved performance in the fall that will continue throughout 2017. For example, Orlando's advanced bookings for the remainder of the year are pacing ahead of where we found ourselves at this same time last year, and the latest lodging forecasts for 2017 predict room-night demand will grow 3 percent and ADR will rise by 3.6 percent.

While the remainder of the year is strong on the convention side, Orlando's convention commitments for 2017 are also pacing ahead of last year.

After an unprecedented period of six straight years of growth, it is true that our industry has seen occupancy levels and room-night demand slow in 2016. However, while these levels may appear soft, it is only when they're compared to 2015's remarkably high levels. In fact, beyond that one stellar year, this year's occupancies are the highest since 1998 when we had substantially less hotel rooms in the region.

So while market conditions appear to have softened a bit, our industry remains quite healthy and the outlook for the destination is positive. With pleasant fall temps on the way, a host of new attractions and event venues plus a robust convention calendar, Orlando continues to be the gold standard for hospitality and a destination of choice for leisure and convention travelers.


Sunshine State Key Focus

With more than 40 percent of our region's leisure visitation coming from Florida residents, the Sunshine State is a key focus for the Visit Orlando team this fall. We have several programs in place to grow Orlando's leadership role in this important market - including the popular Magical Dining Month, which appeals to Florida residents. You have undoubtedly seen Magical Dining Month in the news this week through our aggressive publicity and promotional efforts. As our top destination-wide culinary event, Magical Dining Month lets diners enjoy the best our community has to offer at a significant savings, and showcases our own Visit Orlando member restaurants. And now - for the first time ever - we have incorporated the new Visit Orlando App into the experience, which allows foodies to browse restaurant and menu options of interest to them personally, read restaurant reviews and book a table.

This Florida focus also includes a new Turnpike presence that expands Visit Orlando's footprint throughout the entire state - reaching the 23 million in-state visitors and residents who travel this busy highway each year. Motorists along the state's most popular roadway - and the nation's third most heavily traveled toll road - that stop at one of the plazas will be greeted with a significant Orlando presence, including our visitor booth, can't-miss signage, and interactive kiosks to explore the destination and interact with member businesses.

In this fast-changing world, it is our goal at Visit Orlando to continually connect the destination with visitors in fresh, innovative and creative ways.


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