Though the Orlando Economic Partnership proudly promotes its slogan, “Orlando. You don’t know the half of it,” it is quick to point out it was leaders from the tourism industry who helped lead and craft that messaging campaign. In addition, the leisure and hospitality industry has helped underwrite the significant venues transforming downtown Orlando.
The impact of tourism is staggering. I refer of course to the cascading effect the tourism industry has on our region. Here are a few facts our friends at Visit Orlando provided that everyone should keep in mind.
Positive Economic Benefit
• Tourism represents Central Florida’s largest employer with 423,000 jobs.
• 1 out of every 3 jobs in Orange County is impacted by tourism.
• Visitors pay over half of all sales tax collected in Orange County.
• The economic impact of tourism exceeds $65 billion annually.
• On any average day, more than 500,000 visitors are in Orlando.
• The area boasts the 2nd highest number of hotel rooms in the United States.
• The most visited destination in the United States
• Host to 68 million visitors in 2016
• No. 1 overall meetings destination in the United States
• No. 2 largest tradeshow destination in the United States
• No. 4 largest U.S. destination for international visitors
• Regarded as “the Theme Park Capital of the World”
When looking at these statistics, it is vital to remember tourism is also the catalysis for much of the construction and infrastructure improvements, along with the jobs they create, in the region. In addition, tourism is one of the leading providers of technology jobs and is pushing the envelope on using innovation to make the customer experience more memorable. Already, guests can use wrist bands at the major attractions so they do not have to stand in line; they simply tap and it signals them when it is time to start the show or ride.
Imagine that one day, there may not be mazes to go through at the entrance to theme park venues. My grandkids will ask, “Pops, how long did you have to stand in line when you were young?