From the President & CEO George Aguel: Central Florida Lodging Sector Turns In Exceptional 2017

Now that we've closed the books on 2017, it's official that Orlando continued to break records across a number of key tourism indicators.

As you'll read below, one of our industry's strongest-performing sectors was in lodging, where we established all-time highs for average daily rate, revenue per available room and room nights sold. Another important metric, annual occupancy rate, was the second highest since our data set began in 1979, just under the peak of 80.1 percent in 1996.

But speaking of 1996, we must take into account that our destination has added 40 percent more hotel rooms since then, which makes our occupancy figure even more impressive. Today, room inventory stands at 121,005 - and with so many large-scale hotel projects in the works, that number is expected to soar in the coming years.

Keeping with the record-breaking theme, total attendance at the Orange County Convention Center hit 1.53 million in 2017, up 5 percent on the year. We also expect to see record passenger traffic at Orlando International Airport, as well as record collections of Orange County's Tourist Development Tax, when those numbers are finalized in the coming weeks.

As America's most visited destination, Orlando continues to lead the way. And at Visit Orlando, we're proud to provide the research, business insights and destination marketing support to keep our region's entire tourism industry running strong.

-George Aguel


From Research: Hotels Post Strong Monthly, Year-End Numbers

Orlando's occupancy rate averaged 78.6 percent in December, up 8.6 percent from the previous year -- the highest December occupancy rate on record. The average daily rate rose 8.4 percent to a record $129.50, and RevPAR soared 17.7 percent. December's strong performance capped a record-setting year for Orlando's lodging market, with all-time highs for average daily rate ($121.53), revenue per available room ($96.40) and room nights sold (34.7 million). The annual occupancy rate of 79.3 percent was the second highest since 1979.

In addition, the Orlando market posted stronger growth across all key metrics in 2017 than state and national averages. And when compared to STR's 25 largest lodging markets, Orlando posted the second-fastest growth in occupancy (4.9%), average daily rate (4.8%) and revenue per available room (10%).


Visit Orlando Updates: Creating Interactive Fan Experiences

TM Jan 26 VO Update

Creating Interactive Fan Experiences at Pro Bowl

As Orlando prepares for Saturday's 2018 NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium, the Visit Orlando team has been at ESPN Wide World of Sports to support weeklong interactive guest experiences that include unique photo moments and opportunities to showcase our destination. In addition, Visit Orlando is hosting the event's social media command center, which allows fans to engage with our destination experts.

Visit Orlando, Community Partners Kick Off ZORA!
Visit Orlando and other partners joined The Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community at a press briefing last week that kicked off the annual ZORA! Festival. The multiday festival celebrates the life and work of 20th-century writer Zora Neale Hurston and her hometown of Eatonville, the nation's oldest incorporated African-American municipality. Attracting thousands of locals and tourists, ZORA! features museum exhibitions, panel discussions, workshops and concerts, beginning with a three-day street arts festival.

Integrated Campaign Launches in Ontario
Visit Orlando launched its first fully integrated advertising campaign during the first quarter in Ontario with the goal of capturing more spring and summer visitors. Canadians commuting to downtown Toronto will see branding messages throughout the busy Bay Street subway terminal and Brookfield Place, as well as signage at multiple subway stops along the way. In addition, the Visit Orlando "Never Ending Story" brand spot will be shown in select movie theaters. The campaign runs through March 11.

Brazilian TV Program Showcases Orlando
The public relations team worked with TV show Planeta Brasil to film several episodes focusing on value attractions throughout the destination. Reaching 33 million households and owned by Rede Globo -- the largest TV network in South America -- the lifestyle series featured Brazilian actor-celebrity Leandro Hassum on location in Orlando.

Teaming Up To Reach Leading M&C Clients
Visit Orlando, the Orange County Convention Center and several members recently hosted 55 top association and corporate clients in Nashville during the Professional Convention Management Association's annual Convening Leaders event. Those in attendance learned about new developments in the destination, as well as top reasons to host a convention in Orlando and unique opportunities for event planners.

Visit Orlando and JetBlue Host Top Mexican Media
The public relations team partnered with JetBlue to promote the airline's increase in daily flights from Mexico City to Orlando. Several journalists -- representing publications with a combined reach of 36 million -- experienced everything from theme parks and value attractions to dining, nightlife and more. The trip has generated multiple articles in Reforma De ViajeStyle by ShockEl Blog de Yes and others, with more publicity expected in the coming weeks.

PR Team Lands USA Today Magazine
Visit Orlando landed coverage in Go Escape magazine by USA Today (circulation 100,000) on Orlando experiences beyond the theme parks, which is timed perfectly for when the majority of the country is experiencing cold weather. The article highlights activities ranging from clear kayaking at Rock Springs and Cirque du Soleil-style classes at the Orlando Circus School to relaxing at Wekiva Island.

Inc. to Cover Tech at The Attractions
The public relations team assisted writer Jeff Barrett, on assignment for Inc. (7.5 million potential impressions) to cover technology in Orlando, including how tech is used in innovative theme park attractions like Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Orlando Resort. The journalist also plans to write about Orlando as a top family destination. Be on the lookout for potential future stories in Huffington Post, Cheddar and Thrive.


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