ORANGE COUNTY, Florida. – While Orange County’s tourism tax dollar surveys have not fully recovered, officials say there are signs of hope.
The Orange County Comptroller’s Office released its May numbers on Monday, showing the county levied a total of $ 16,890,000 in tourism development taxes.
While the total monthly hotel and resort tax collections in Orange County is higher around this time last year – a 1,303.5% increase from May 2020 to be exact – the total tourism tax dollars collected in May was 142,100 $ lower than April collection, according to the latest auditor’s report.
According to Visit Orlando, the slight decline in collections in May is nothing unusual by comparison and follows a typical seasonal pattern with tourism slowing after the spring break until Memorial Day weekend, which usually ushers in the summer travel season.
“Memorial Day weekend was a positive sign that the destination was entering summer as the Saturday night holiday weekend hit 90% hotel occupancy,” said Daryl Cronk, senior director of market research and insights, Visit Orlando. “That was the highest daily occupancy rate since the first weekend in March 2020, shortly before the pandemic shutdown.”
The report also shows May failed to live up to last May before the pandemic on the books.
“May recoveries were $ 5,721,000, or 25.3% less than our last May before the pandemic,” auditor officials said Monday. “In fact, that amount is less than we raised in each month before the May pandemic since 2014.”
The following graphic shows that the collections are recovering, but are still below the level of the 2018/19 financial year.
TDT collections for May 2021. (WKMG)
Another highlight from the report: May was the first month since the beginning of the pandemic in which the district did not have to reach into its reserves to meet its financing obligations.
In fact, the county said its “renewal and replacement reserve” increased by $ 32,233 for the month of May.
Since the pandemic began, the county has used more than $ 145 million in reserves to meet its TDT obligations.
TDT reserves for May 2021. (Image: Orange County Comptroller’s Office) (WKMG)
“This has resulted in our ‘Other Authorized Use’ reserves dropping from $ 181 million to $ 36 million during that period,” officials wrote in the report. “Well, this is welcome news and hopefully a sign of the future.”
Visit Orlando also identified the following as key indicators showing strong progress for the Orlando tourism community:
Accommodation: Demand for hotel rooms remains strong, with consecutive weeks of over 70% occupancy at the end of June – the first time since early March 2020 – and the average daily rate (USD 127.51) topping 2019 levels three times in a row . Visit Orlando officials believe demand will reach or exceed current levels by the summer.
- Air travel: Fourth of July vacation travel volume around Orlando International Airport Exceeded expectations and was only 8% below the same 13-day period in 2019, according to Visit Orlando. Spirit Airlines has also announced that it will resume flights to multiple international and domestic markets, offering 80 daily departures through the end of 2021.
Meetings: The meeting and convention industry is also exceeding expectations. 68 events are scheduled at the Orange County Convention Center for the remainder of 2021, Visit Orlando officials said. That equates to an estimated $ 1.2 billion in economic impact, which would reflect exactly what the region experienced in the second half of 2019.
The TDT collection report for June will be released in early August, according to district officials.
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