Orlando is not only home to world-class attractions and accommodations but also a world-class convention center that hosts regional, national and international conventions and tradeshows. Increasingly each year, Orlando is a desired location for large groups because of its amenities, accessibility, affordability and uniqueness of the destination as a whole. From meeting space to dining and accommodations, meeting planners want a variety of options and Orlando can deliver that and much more.
As the home to the second largest convention center in the United States, Orlando’s convention industry stimulates the local economy and expands business opportunities for more than 1,000 businesses. The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) welcomed approximately 1.4 million attendees last year, resulting in a $2.2 billion total economic impact. However, to remain competitive, investments on the local level must be made.
“We know that our convention visitors want a uniquely local experience – not an impersonal, secluded convention center district,” stated Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs at the State of the County address in June.
In early 2015, Mayor Teresa Jacobs convened an 11-member, International Drive visioning committee made up of various local business and tourism representatives. This team has worked and will continue to work with Orange County planners and convention staff to formulate a long-term vision for International Drive.
“We’re committed to creating a dazzling International Drive entertainment district that will be the envy of the world – not only for our visitors, but for our young millennials, local families and children, entrepreneurs, artists and more. We’re creating a vision for the future, where tourists from around the world will want to come back – again and again – and where local citizens, families and young people will enjoy a ‘uniquely local’ lifestyle, in walkable, livable districts that are filled with entertainment, dining, the arts, and so much more,” she continued.
Although this project is currently in its planning stages, Orange County is dividing the International Drive district into six distinct sub-districts with OCCC serving as the premier anchor. “Orange County Government is committed to a thoughtful planning process and the input so far has been encouraging to support the vision’s framework,” expressed Orange County Planning Manager Alberto Vargas.
Orlando’s Major Attractor
This year OCCC expects close to 1.5 million attendees at 203 events. If previous years are any indicator, the economic impact will be great. Citywide events not only drive significant impact for hotels and restaurants but also the tourist development tax, which collected $201 million last year from overnight business and leisure travelers. This tax benefits Orlando locals by creating jobs and positively impacting our local economy overall.
The OCCC is home to some of the largest events in the country and this year is no different. The International Plastics Showcase took place this past spring, welcoming more than 60,000 industry professionals visiting exhibits by over 2,000 companies. And later this year, the world’s largest modeling, simulation and training conference, I/ITSEC will take place over five days. These two events alone will bring in over 40,000 attendees who will see firsthand Orlando’s greatest amenities.
From the Desk of George Aguel, President & CEO of Visit Orlando
In-person meetings and conventions play an important role in our tourism business and Central Florida community. Our local meetings industry helps attract millions of business/convention visitors who come to Orlando each year. The Orange County Convention Center alone welcomes more than a million visitors annually.
Visit Orlando enjoys a strong partnership with the Orange County Convention Center, which operates the second largest convention center in the United States. Our Visit Orlando Convention Sales and Services department focuses its efforts on marketing and selling the destination to meeting professionals to influence them to select us for their meetings, conventions and trade shows.
Together, with our hotel and resort members, we have been very successful in making Orlando one of the very best convention destinations in the nation. In fact, Orlando was recently named the No. 1 destination for meetings and conventions in the United States for 2015. We are honored to be named No. 1 and ahead of strong competitors such as Las Vegas and Chicago.
We like to say that “meetings mean business” in Orlando. We’re fortunate that our tourism and community leaders understand this, and we at Visit Orlando will continue to leverage all of our destination’s assets to attract even more business for our community in the months and years ahead.
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