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!


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 President & CEO: Top Spring Break Destination

For years, Orlando has been the nation's top choice for spring travel. With so many exciting new reasons to visit our destination -- and your team at Visit Orlando pushing to make sure that message is well-known -- all signs point to that trend continuing in 2018.

Once again, based on hotel bookings at, Orlando will be America's most popular spring travel destination. A study by travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance produced a similar result when analyzing the spring break season.

According to Allianz's review of trips planned between Feb. 23 and April 16, Orlando will receive a whopping 9.5 percent market share of U.S. travelers -- nearly double that of second-place Phoenix. As for the nation's busiest flight day for spring break travel, that's expected to occur Saturday, March 10. So get to the airport early if you're catching a flight!

As always, this edition of Tourism Matters contains a wealth of insights and updates. Two of my favorite stories touch on the role of tourism in our community: Dr. Abe Pizam's enduring legacy as dean of UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality Management, and the opportunity for local nonprofits to benefit from Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month program.

Stories like these show how our region's leading industry, and those who contribute to its success, have great power to bring about positive change.


Visit Orlando Updates: Feb. 22

Branding Orlando in Toronto's Busiest Hub
Millions of Canadians will see Orlando's branding message as they commute to and from Toronto's bustling financial, cultural and corporate centers, thanks to additional signage in Brookfield Place near Union Station, Toronto's busiest transportation hub. These out-of-home initiatives are part of our first-ever fully integrated, first-quarter advertising campaign aimed at encouraging travel during March and into the summer.

Visit Orlando Honors UCF's Dr. Abe Pizam
In August, Dr. Abe Pizam will retire as dean of UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality Management, leaving a tremendous legacy that spans more than three decades. During a recent meeting of the Visit Orlando Board of Directors, Chairman Don Engfer recognized Dr. Pizam for being a longtime partner of our organization. We appreciate all he has done to advocate for the work of Visit Orlando, and to champion the local tourism industry.

Visit Orlando Hosts Brazilian Influencers
Visit Orlando's public relations team worked with five Brazilian influencers -- with a combined reach of more than 7.5 million -- to showcase the destination through daily posts to their loyal followers across social media. During their stay, the influencers featured attractions such as Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World, Main Event, iFLY Orlando and others. Influencers included Lucas Rangel, Valentina Schulz, Ivana Coelho, Maria Suconic and actor Andre Bankoff.

Promoting Orlando at Media Marketplace
Visit Orlando attended the annual TravMedia International Media Marketplace in New York City Jan. 25, meeting with more than 30 media outlets, including CBS News, Parents Magazine, Delish, and Travel + Leisure. Topics ranged from what's new in Orlando to lesser-known attractions to dining and arts and culture.

Grainger Brings 13,000 Attendees
Last week, Grainger held its 2018 show at the Orange County Convention Center for the sixth consecutive year. Boasting more than 13,000 attendees -- an increase over the year prior -- Grainger is booked at the Orange County Convention Center through 2026.

Event Highlights Benefits of Working with CVBs
Visit Orlando's convention sales team attended the Destination Showcase in Washington, D.C., last week. The event focused on how to work with convention and visitor bureaus to achieve successful meetings, and it enabled Visit Orlando to meet with key association, corporate and government meeting professionals.

Orlando Highlighted on ABC in Philadelphia
Visit Orlando worked with ABC Philadelphia to showcase what makes Orlando unique and dynamic. The crew filmed a series of vignettes with TV host and meteorologist Melissa Magee, spotlighting all that is new and exciting in Orlando, including our ever-growing dining scene and endless outdoor adventures. The segments will air on the weekend show "FYI Philly" throughout the month of February.

UK Newspapers Tab Orlando as Top Value
The public relations team generated coverage in the UK's Daily Star (circ. 421K), highlighting Orlando as a top winter sun getaway following the destination being named "Best Value Long-Haul Break" in the Post Office Travel Money's annual Best Bargains report. The Daily Mirror also included Orlando in a roundup on best inexpensive places to travel in March.

Theme Parks Featured in Lifestyle Magazine
Visit Orlando's public relations team secured coverage in New York Lifestyles Magazine, profiling the theme parks and Disney Springs. The article, released in print and online, generated more than 251,000 impressions.

Networking with Key Clients at RCMA
Visit Orlando and participating members networked and conducted one-on-one meetings with clients at the Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA) tradeshow in Omaha Jan. 30-Feb. 1. In addition, Visit Orlando and its members hosted a private event for 20 key clients, showcasing everything our destination has to offer.

CMO Hollander Shares Insight on CMO Panel
More than 90 industry professionals attended the American Marketing Association of Orlando's special CMO panel featuring Danielle Hollander, Visit Orlando's chief marketing officer. The panel focused on what to look for in advertising agencies and the future of agencies working alongside brands.

Accepting Applications from Local Nonprofits
Visit Orlando is now accepting applications from local nonprofits for its annual Magical Dining Month program in September. Last year, Magical Dining raised a record $208,620 for two charities. Nonprofits are encouraged to apply online no later than Feb. 28. Questions can be directed to Kristin Rothbauer at


Now Accepting Applications from Local Nonprofits that Benefit Children

Magical Dining Charity

Visit Orlando is now accepting applications from local nonprofits for its annual Magical Dining Month program in September.

As part of the initiative, Visit Orlando brings together the entire tourism community to support local charities that help children and families. Last year, Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month raised a record $208,620 for two local charities.

We invite local nonprofit organizations to apply for consideration as our charitable partner. In order to be eligible for support, a nonprofit must:

• Benefit children and families.
• Be based in Central Florida.
• Allocate the majority of its services and funding to directly benefit the Central Florida community.
• Have no political or religious affiliation.

All applications must be submitted no later than Wednesday, Feb. 28. Applications received after 5 p.m. (EST) will not be considered. Contact Kristin Rothbauer, communications manager, at, should you have any questions.


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


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.


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 



Magical Dining Month Raises a Record $208,620 for Charity

Magical Dining Raises a Record for Charity 

Visit Orlando's 12th annual Magical Dining Month raised a record $208,620 for two local charities: Freedom Ride Inc. and BASE Camp Children's Foundation. From Aug. 25 to Oct. 12, guests enjoyed Magical Dining dinners at a record 118 restaurants across Central Florida, and one dollar from each meal was donated to charity. Freedom Ride provides therapeutic horseback riding to people of all ages coping with physical, emotional and learning disabilities. BASE Camp works to ease the stress of children and their families suffering from cancer and other life-threatening hematological illnesses. See the charities in action here.


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.


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