Tourism generates $75.2 billion annual economic impact for our community
Tourism is the lifeblood of our local economy, and the numbers bear that out. A study by leading research firm Oxford Economics and Visit Orlando shows our tourism industry generated $75.2 billion in economic impact last year (an increase of 6.4% over 2017) and supports 41% of the region’s workforce. Here to explore these findings are Visit Orlando President & CEO George Aguel and Daryl Cronk, Visit Orlando’s senior director of market research & insights.
Why and how does Visit Orlando measure tourism’s economic impact?
George Aguel: It’s important for us to be able to quantify tourism’s many contributions to our local community. Because our industry has seen so much growth in recent years, these types of studies help us better understand how visitors’ money flows through every corner of our economy.
Daryl Cronk: As to how economic impact is measured, we break it into three categories: direct, indirect and induced. Direct economic value happens when visitors do things like book hotel rooms, rent cars and buy tickets to attractions. This type of spending supports jobs, wages, taxes and gross domestic product in sectors like recreation and transportation. But the impact ripples further than that. Tourism companies also purchase goods and services from other businesses, such as food wholesalers and utility suppliers. We call this indirect impact. Finally, we have employees whose wages come either directly or indirectly from tourism. When they spend those wages in the local economy, they create induced impact.
What trends are we seeing in visitor spending?
George: One of our destination’s advantages is our collective focus on consistently developing exciting new experiences, from our theme parks and attractions to our hotels, restaurants and shopping. This gives visitors more chances to maximize their vacations and lengthen their trips. With that in mind, we’ve seen visitor spending increase a remarkable 84% since 2009, which bodes very well for our economy.
Daryl: Visitor spending growth largely comes down to higher visitation and more spending per trip. These factors caused visitor spending to increase in all major categories and rise by $2.7 billion (6.2%) to reach $47 billion in 2018. When we include the added impact mentioned above, we see visitor spending generated $75.2 billion in economic impact for our region. How did tourism support our local workforce in 2018?
George: Tourism plays a vital role in our economy, as more than 4 in 10 of our neighbors support themselves and their families through work related to tourism. That’s 463,004 jobs total, 14,000 more than in 2017.
How important are visitors to the local tax rolls?
George: Tax revenue from tourism supports our community in many ways. The lodging tax is an essential funding source for sports and cultural venues, while the sales taxes paid by tourists help support our schools, roads and other government services. In addition, 12 of the top 15 assessed property tax contributors in Orange County are owned by tourism businesses.
Daryl: In greater metro Orlando, tourist spending generated $5.8 billion in local and state taxes in 2018. In Orange County, tourists account for over half of all sales tax revenue. Without visitors, residents would have to pay significantly higher taxes to enjoy the same level of resources and amenities we enjoy today.