In April of this year, Visit Orlando announced that more than 62 million people visited in 2014, marking a new all-time record for the U.S. travel industry and solidifying Orlando’s position as the most visited destination in the nation. Visitation grew 5 percent from 2013 as visitors from around the world came to experience all that is new across the ever-expanding destination.
A Remarkable Impact in 2014
A record 32 million hotel room nights were sold in Orlando in 2014, resulting in bed tax collections topping $200 million for the first time in Orange County, home to the Central Florida tourism district. To meet the needs of a growing number of visitors, the County has made investments in infrastructure, including investing in an important expansion and renovation of the nationally recognized Orange County Convention Center.
“The impact of tourism on our community is remarkable, and in fact, the travel and tourism industry is the largest generator of jobs and economic impact for our region,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “In addition to delighting visitors and families from around the world, our travel and hospitality industry helps to support a great quality of life for Orlando’s residents.”
“Passing the 60 million annual visitors mark is a significant achievement for Orlando and the U.S. travel industry that generates $2.1 trillion for the U.S. economy each year,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow.
“Thanks to the close partnership among members of Orlando’s tourism community and strong leadership by public officials and Visit Orlando, this popular destination known around the world is well positioned to continue setting records in tourism.”
In 2014, Walt Disney World Resort completed New Fantasyland, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort opened. Visitors to Orlando in 2015 are experiencing the first full year of these exciting expansions that opened in 2014 and are the first to see several new attractions.
To 2015 and Beyond
The year 2015 in Orlando is already halfway through, and it’s gotten off to a great start. In February of this year, Priceline.com named Orlando the No. 1 “hot spot” for travelers in 2015. With new options for attractions, entertainment, dining and more, the standouts include I-Drive 360, featuring a trio of new attractions from Merlin Entertainments, as well as a multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs.
In recent years, the Orlando experience has also become more diverse, attracting an increasingly wide range of visitors. Foodies find a surprisingly sophisticated culinary destination, recognized with more “Best of the South” chef nominations by the prestigious James Beard Foundation than any city in Florida for three straight years. Luxury travelers are drawn to the five-star service at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando that opened six months ago, as well as the Ritz-Carlton Orlando and Waldorf Astoria Orlando.
Visitors are also discovering exciting new venues in which to enjoy the arts and professional sports, like the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts and the Orlando City Soccer Club’s Major League Soccer stadium coming to Downtown Orlando in 2016.