Tourists keep visiting Orlando, helping pandemic recovery

Orlando tourism
And Orlando is expecting to have a big summer.

Spring Break paid off for Orlando.

The tourism industry is returning back to normal after being decimated in 2020 from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, Orange County’s hotel tax generated nearly $34.7 million in revenue. The 6% levy is charged on all hotel room nights and other accommodations.

“Notably, in April 2020, (hotel tax) collections plummeted by 97% to a record-low level not seen since the 1980s. Two years later, in April 2022, (tax) collections were the highest April collections on record and the second-highest collections ever,” Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond announced Friday in a news release.

April’s revenues were, however, a slight dip from March by almost $4 million.

Meanwhile, Orlando’s hotel occupancy for April hit 79.4% — almost back to normal. In April 2019, hotel occupancy was 80.9%, according to Visit Orlando, the region’s tourism promoter.

“While Spring Break and Easter drove leisure travel to Orlando, on the group side the destination welcomed 12 citywide events at the Orange County Convention Center, including large sporting competition events such as 2022 Sunshine Volleyball Classic, Open Championship Series 2022 and Florida Volleyball Challenge 2022,” said Visit Orlando CEO Casandra Matej in a news release.

Orlando is expecting to have a big summer.

“Our destination is anticipating a busy summer with June and July leisure hotel bookings currently pacing only slightly behind 2019 levels at 97% and 89%, respectively,” Matej said.

Orlando International Airport, the state’s busiest airport, also is moving closer to 2019 travel numbers. For international travelers especially, the pandemic has added complexities.

“Airline service to the Orlando area remains plentiful, with domestic direct seat capacity for peak summer months trending just above pre-pandemic volume,” Matej said. “The international direct seat deficit is also shrinking, with June and July seat capacity only 11% behind 2019.”

For tourists, there are plenty of reasons to want to travel to Orlando. Disney World opened a new indoor roller coaster based on the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise last month. All the major theme parks — Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando — are hosting summer special events before pivoting to Halloween weeks ahead of the official Oct. 31 date.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


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