From President & CEO: Positive Outlook for Brazilian Visitation

As Orlando's third-largest international market, Brazil plays an important role in our local tourism industry. That's why it's such welcome news that, after years of economic hardships, Brazilians appear ready to come back to Orlando in a big way.

Visit Orlando is hard at work in São Paolo, Rio de Janeiro and other major Brazilian cities to keep our destination top of mind. We just launched a national marketing campaign to coincide with a key booking period in Brazil, and our research shows that Orlando remains the No. 1 choice for an overseas vacation among our target audience.

As you'll read in this issue of Tourism Matters, the scheduled number of nonstop seats from Brazil to Orlando International Airport in 2018 just reached 486,000, smashing the previous high of 361,000. And because Brazilians spend more money, per person, in our destination than visitors from any other core market, their presence translates to even greater economic impact across our entire community.

While it's still too early to say if 2018 will be a record year for Brazilian visitation overall, the recent news out of OIA, coupled with Visit Orlando's marketing and research efforts, reinforces our outlook that Brazil is bouncing back in a very strong way.

On a related note, it speaks to the strength of our industry that Orange County's January collection of tourist development tax came in at a whopping $23.7 million, nearly 15 percent higher than the same month a year ago. Yet more proof that 2018 is looking good!


From Research: Exposition Industry Showed Strong Growth in Q4

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) recently reported that the exhibition industry grew during the fourth quarter of 2017. The performance of the industry, as measured by the CEIR Total Index, posted a strong year-over-year gain of 3.1 percent, rebounding from a slight decline (0.4 percent) the previous quarter. All four indicators in the CEIR Index increased during the fourth quarter: real revenues (5.0 percent), exhibitors (3.4 percent), net square feet (2.5 percent), and attendees (1.5 percent).


Visit Orlando Updates: March 8

FYI Philly Showcases What's New in Orlando
Visit Orlando's consumer marketing team secured Orlando being featured on the hit TV weekend show "FYI Philly" throughout February. Host and meteorologist Melissa Magee showed viewers what makes Orlando unique, with segments including "What's New at the Theme Parks," "Orlando's Endless Adventures" and "Orlando's Ever-growing Dining Scene."

USA Today Features Visit Orlando Contest
Visit Orlando's public relations team secured coverage in USA Today online with the article "Here are the top five travel contests you can enter." The piece features Visit Orlando's Uniquely Orlando contest, running now through
March 11.

Marketing Campaign Launches in Brazil
This month, Visit Orlando's consumer marketing team launched a Brazilian marketing campaign that incorporates TV, print, online videos, digital display, social media advertising, content amplification and search engine marketing. The campaign is designed to connect with consumers during their prime planning and booking timeframes. The first phase will run until mid-June and generate about 200 million impressions.

Recognizing Impact of Meeting Planners
Visit Orlando networked with more than 200 meeting planners and industry partners at an awards ceremony Feb. 22 hosted by the Greater Midwest chapter of the Professional Convention Management Association. These networking opportunities help keep our destination top of mind for future business.

The Globe and Mail Highlights Orlando
Visit Orlando's public relations team secured coverage in Canada's The Globe and Mail after a destination orientation with travel journalist Heather Greenwood-Davis. The article showcased LEGOLAND Florida Resort in print and online. Davis also featured Orlando in her latest March Break article, highlighting popular attractions like I-Drive 360, Kennedy Space Center and Andretti Indoor Karting & Games.

Brazilian Media Share New Orlando Attractions
As a result of Visit Orlando's media outreach, several online outlets published articles highlighting new and upcoming Orlando attractions, dining experiences and accommodations. Notable publications include Catraca Livre, Vírgula, R7 Viagens, MSN and Qual Viagem.

Canada's CHCH Features Orlando's Hidden Gems
Visit Orlando's public relations team generated a five-minute segment on Canada's CHCH Morning Live. Travel writer Kathy Buckworth spoke on her experience visiting the destination, highlighting places like Walt Disney World, The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum, Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort, Orlando Balloon Rides and more.

Record Attendance at Annual Member Event
On Wednesday night, Visit Orlando hosted a record-breaking number of attendees at our 12th annual Party at Pointe Orlando. In addition to making valuable business connections with more than 800 travel and tourism professionals, attendees connected with key Visit Orlando departments. Throughout the night, guests enjoyed food and beverage from eight Pointe Orlando venues, as well as entertainment sponsored by Imprint Events.


From Research: January Occupancy Rises 4.8 Percent

The new year got off to a strong start as Orlando's January hotel occupancy rose 4.8 percent. For comparison, statewide occupancy rose 2.3 percent and the national average occupancy rate rose 0.9 percent. January's occupancy rate of 78.7 percent represents an all-time high for the month in Orlando. In addition, the average daily rate in Orlando rose 8.9 percent to $135.96, also an all-time high for the month of January, and revenue per available room (RevPAR) rose 14.1 percent.


From the President & CEO: 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%).


Honey Nougat Glacé is Orlando’s New Signature Dish -- Congrats to Chef Delrieu, Mon Petit Cheri Cafe

Signature Dish 

Congratulations to Chef Catherine Delrieu of Mon Petit Cheri Café for winning the Orlando Signature Dish culinary competition. Earlier this year, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs challenged the area's culinary community to create a honey-based dessert that would reflect the history and personality of Orlando. Dozens of delicious entries were received, and an expert panel of celebrity chefs chose the winner after public voting narrowed the field to 10 finalists. The honey nougat glace features Italian meringue prepared with honey, nougat and fruit confit, on a red berries sorbet.

Chef Catherine Delrieu 



Orlando’s Tourism Industry Seeing Widespread Growth

Annual Meeting 2017 

Our destination has experienced year-to-date growth across most of the important metrics that we track, including hotel demand, occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room. We're outpacing state and national growth averages in these areas - and among the country's top 25 hotel markets, we've posted the fastest RevPAR growth and are tied for the fastest growth in occupancy. In addition, 2017 has seen record traffic at Orlando International Airport and record attendance at the Orange County Convention Center.

As a destination, we are well-poised for a strong finish to the year. Adding to some recent accolades we've won - such as "Best Winter Family Vacation" (US News & World Report) and "Top Warm-Weather Winter Destination" (Wallet Hub) - advance bookings for Dec. 25 to Jan. 1 are 20% ahead of this time last year. That news, coupled with Jan. 1 falling on a Monday, means Orlando can expect a very busy weekend to ring in the New Year.


Travel Puts Americans to Work

Travel Puts Americans to Work


In Central Florida, tourism supports 1 in 3 jobs and generates $64 billion in annual economic impact. Now, a new study by the U.S. Travel Association shows just how important the industry is to the country's labor force as a whole.

According to "Travel: America's Unsung Hero of Job Creation," Americans whose first job was in a travel-related industry obtained an average career salary of $81,900, significantly higher than those starting in most other U.S. industries. Even better, 40% now earn more than $100,000 a year.

Here are three other key takeaways:

1) 52% of travel jobs - which include those in transportation, hotels, restaurants, entertainment and related fields - pay middle-class wages or higher.

2) The travel industry offers a statistically better career starting point for Americans with less education. Workers with a high school degree or less whose first jobs were in travel reached an average career salary of $69,500, 5% greater than the average salary attained by workers who started in other industries.

3) The leisure and hospitality sector, which is heavily dependent on travel, is the No. 1 small business employer in the U.S. From 2010 to 2016, travel jobs increased by 17%, compared to 13% job growth in the rest of the private sector.

Facts such as these provide much-needed context that, unfortunately, is not often recognized. The truth is, our industry offers a valuable service not only to our guests, but also to our hard-working employees and our economy.



Visit Orlando Talks Tourism with Fox35

George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando, recently sat down with Fox35 to talk about how tourism is impacting our community - and how we're building on last year's record 68 million visitors to remain America's most visited destination.


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