Leap Year helps Orange County’s tourist tax revenue jump

Here's the latest for Orange County's bed tax.

Orange County’s tourism development tax revenue jumped in February to $34 million, or 4.3% higher compared to the same time last year. But officials say observes shouldn’t read too much into the number.

“Before ‘leaping’ to conclusions, note that there were 29 days in February this year compared to 28 days in February last year,” Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said in a news release. “On average, the extra day would have generated about $1,174,000 of TDT dollars. Or in percentage terms, the extra day would have increased collections by about 3.6%.”

So far this fiscal year, the county’s hotel bed tax revenue is down year-over-year by $1.6 million, or 1%, Diamond’s Office said.

In Orange County, the 6% surcharge on hotel rooms generates money toward entertainment venues, like the Orange County Convention Center or the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts, as well as funding Visit Orlando’s marketing.

For Orlando’s tourism market, MegaCon helped draw crowds to the convention center in February, and international flights helped increase airline passenger arrivals by nearly 7% to Orlando International Airport.

But Visit Orlando said the market won’t see big growth later this Spring.

“Our recent data suggests that Orlando hotels will see a softening in the coming months, with on-the-books room nights for the second quarter slightly behind at -3% in the same period last year,” Visit Orlando’s President and CEO, Casandra Matej said in a statement.

“Advance airline ticket sales into Orlando from origins worldwide are pacing just below the same time in 2023 by -0.5%, with April seeing the largest gap. Direct airlift to the Orlando area appears to be stabilizing, as the seat capacity is expected to grow slightly by 2% compared to 2023.”

Orlando’s theme parks are gearing up for new attractions, which could court tourists to Central Florida in the next few months.

Walt Disney World is opening Tiana’s Bayou Adventure this Summer to replace Splash Mountain. SeaWorld’s penguin-themed family-friend coaster debuts this Spring. And Universal Orlando announced Thursday Halloween Horror Nights begins “earlier than ever,” starting select nights from Aug. 30 until Nov. 3.

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 .

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    April 4, 2024 at 1:14 pm

    Maybe the extra hotel motel tourism revenues are because of leap year.

    Or maybe it’s that nostalgic types are getting in one final trip to their favorite theme park before Florida completely implodes.

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