Bring Tourist Dollars and Enhance Quality of Life for Local Residents
Here is my “Top 10 Things To Do In Central Florida” List:
- Surf First Peak at Sebastian Inlet.
- Make your own pancakes at The Old Spanish Sugar Mill in De Leon Springs.
- Spend an afternoon on Park Avenue and play the Winter Park Golf Course.
- Enjoy libations and fireworks at the Grove Resort & Spa Orlando.
- Thrill to ziplining through Forever Florida.
- Indulge in a banana split from Treats on the Beach in New Smyrna Beach.
- Make a new friend feeding a giraffe at the Brevard Zoo.
- Explore the universe on Space Mountain.
- Catch a show in the Walt Disney theater at The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
- See an Orlando Magic game at the Amway Center.
While Orlando is the proverbial Grand Central for all of these experiences (and many more), this list and thousands like it prove one thing: You have to get outside the city limits, even beyond the county line, to find the region’s real magic!
In 2016, the tourism industry gave every corner of Central Florida its fair share of millions of guests. From the Kennedy Space Center to the Sunshine Skyway, Crystal River and the Daytona 500, visitors continue to fuel our region’s economic engine.
Central Florida tourism has a $60 billion-plus economic impact. In 2014, it generated $4.8 billion in state and local taxes, with the industry generating one in three jobs regionally. Plenty of revenue and growth, but it also contributes to quality of life.
Adam Sacks is the president of Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company dedicated to analytically- based consulting to the tourism sector. He says visitor spending brings with it unique benefits in addition to job creation and increased tax revenue.
“Attractions, museums, sports complexes and performing arts centers all have a catalytic effect, raising the quality of life for everyone,” said Sacks. “Strong visitor spending in Orlando results in residents enjoying the amenities, cultural experiences and upgrades to infrastructure that grow from tourism.”
In Orlando, that means Camping World, Amway and Dr. Phillips — facilities all paid for in part by the Tourist Development Tax. Just as impressive as venues supported by the bed tax is the region’s visitor industry underpinning the support of Orlando City Soccer Club allowing it to build its stadium without public dollars. Now ravenous soccer fans from all over the world let their purple flag fly at Orlando City Stadium.
Getting tens of millions of visitors here, there and everywhere is a monumental task, but a challenge Orlando has risen to with a planned $15 billion investment in infrastructure. Visitor dollars contributed in a major way to renovations at the Orlando International Airport, Orlando Sanford International Airport, SunRail, Port Canaveral and I-4 Ultimate.
According to the Orlando Economic Partnership’s website, the region’s infrastructure offers “reliability, affordability and efficiency, giving businesses seamless access to the people and places they need to reach.”
The Partnership is a new organization formed from the merger of the Central Florida Partnership and the Orlando Economic Development Commission. Tim Giuliani is the new President and CEO of the not-for- profit, public/private partnership working to provide the Orlando region with quality jobs, economic growth, broad-based prosperity and a sustainable quality of life.
“Orlando is maximizing its resources and making substantial investments in infrastructure, competitive products and quality-of-life features. The strength of our tourism industry provides additional revenue to improve our community,” said Giuliani. “Our thriving tourism has enabled the region to enhance amenities and build the world-class Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, complete renovations to the Camping World Stadium, which this year hosted the NFL’s ProBowl, and support the construction of the state- of-the-art Amway Center. With more than 68 million people visiting the region a year, our airport is also a critical asset and gateway to locations across the globe.”
Our region benefits from public/private partnerships in transportation, high-value cultural venues and even major attractions. Tourism drives the investment in infrastructure that has earned Orlando recognition as one of Foreign Direct Investment Magazine’s Top 10 American Cities of the Future.
Attracting, lodging, feeding, moving and entertaining 68 million visitors has turned the individual cities of Central Florida into a regional team, leveraging the growth and revenue brought on by tourism to the long- term benefits of residents and visitors alike.