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Tourism Matters

Orlando’s Visitors Push Construction Development

On a cool quiet morning, just outside of downtown Orlando, the silhouette of Florida’s state bird – the sky crane – stands tall against the backdrop of life in the metroplex. A majestic creature standing silent and proud, patiently anticipating the moment it will spring
into action.

As the sun crests the horizon, the sky crane begins its day. Its deliberate ballet drives the engine of economic development, fed by the global desire to live, work and play in Central Florida.

Unlike the state’s designated land and sea animals, the panther and the manatee, the sky crane is not among the endangered species. In fact, it numbers and range are growing exponentially up and down the I-4 corridor.

Construction is the life-blood of growing economies. New residents need homes, working commercial enterprise and industrial spaces. A tried and true recipe producing a filling, if somewhat,
bland fare.

This is clearly not the case for the Orlando area. We’ve added some spice to the recipe: tourism.

The economic impact of the visitor industry on the construction extends well outside core hospitality and transportation clusters.

Regional demand for construction extends to the tourism supply chain for commercial and industrial needs in addition to residential ones. The rising tide of Orlando visitors is floating all construction boats.

Greater Supply, Higher Demand, and More Money

One direct beneficiary of the tourism industry in Orlando is the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. With Phase 1
construction complete, Phase 2 had stalled as funding sources were being finalized. Direct messaging from tourism industry managers convinced city and county mayors to freeup money from the Tourist Development Tax (TDT).

The bed tax brought in $240 million last year, almost 4 percent more than budgeted, and 6 percent higher than the previous year. With the unanimous vote from the Orange County Board of County Commissioners, $45 million from the TDT was provided to start Phase 2 construction at the Dr. Phillips Center.

“This is a kick-off, really,” said Kathy Ramsberger, President and CEO of the venue. “We are grateful for the support of the city, county, and tourism industry, but also to our board, donors, staff, volunteers, commercial and local artists, as well as the guests who make the arts center what it is today, and what it will be in the future.”

Demand for development is not slowing as Orlando continues to welcome increasing numbers of visitors.  More than 66 million came here last year. According to the hotel real estate brokerage firm HREC Investment Advisors, more than 1,500 new hotel rooms will be built in Central Florida this year to help meet the growing demand.

Orlando’s construction boon “is part of an arms race of sorts between Disney, Universal studios and other theme-park operators,” said Christopher Palmeri of Bloomberg. Park operators understand building significant new attractions leads to higher attendance and robust ticket prices.

Tourism Driving Innovation in Construction

Not only is Orlando’s Tourism industry driving construction in theme parks
and hospitality, it also is driving innovation. Condo hotels  (or Contels) are the latest offering from the real
estate and resort communities. Contels marry the benefits of vacation home ownership with the amenities and convenience of a luxury resort.

Just outside of Disney’s main gates, The Grove Resort and Spa is one of the first of its kind in the area, offering more than 800 affordable fee-simple vacation homes that are operated like a luxury hotel. While Orlando has seen some construction activity in this new segment, the inventory is low compared to an ever-increasing demand.

For more information visit www.visitorlando.com

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i4 Business

i4 Business magazine has become one of the most trusted voices for and about the Central Florida business community. Each month through our print and digital platforms, we provide access to meet, to learn from and to learn about some of the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders who are shaping our region.

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