MEGACON helps Orange County set tax revenue record, strong summer expected

What helped spur travel to Orlando was 140,000 people attending MEGACON.

May set a record for the highest Orange County tax revenue ever collected for that month as fans crowd a large convention.

The county’s 6% surcharge on hotel rooms and short-term stays generated $28.05 million for May, County Comptroller Phil Diamond announced Thursday.

“Hotel occupancy was 70.5% in May 2022, which is below 74.8% from May 2019,” Diamond said.

But Diamond pointed out the number of hotels grew in Central Florida. In May 2022, Orlando has about 6,400 more hotel rooms compared to May 2019.

Visit Orlando CEO Casandra Matej said what helped spur travel to Orlando was 140,000 people attending MEGACON. The convention that draws in fans who love comic books, sci-fi, anime, fantasy, and gaming was held May 19-22 at the Orange County Convention Center.

The long Memorial Day holiday also helped boost travel, she said.

Looking ahead, Matej predicts a strong summer for Orlando’s tourism economy.

“Advance hotel bookings indicate that June is on track to slightly outperform the pre-pandemic time period. For July, advance hotel bookings are pacing 10% behind July 2019,” Matej said Thursday. “Domestic seat capacity continues to exceed pre-pandemic 2019 levels, going into summer and fall. International seat capacity remains 11% below pre-pandemic levels for the summer months.”

So far, there are not any signs tourism to Orlando is slowing down because of inflation and high gas prices, she said.

“We’ve been closely monitoring national studies that gauge traveler sentiment. While we are seeing an increase in traveler concern over travel prices, and gasoline prices, in particular, we are not seeing an immediate effect on travel plans for Orlando yet,” Matej said. “Generally, when gas prices spike (which traditionally occurs during the summer months), we do not see a significant impact on hotel bookings. Consumers still travel but travel differently – stay closer to home, adjust length of stay, adjust accommodation level, spend less on entertainment and dining.”

Matej has regularly provided updates on the state of Orlando’s tourism industry since she took control of Visit Orlando in 2021. Orlando’s theme parks shut down for several months in 2020 and then the rebound has continued into 2022 as people travel again.

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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