Tourism in Orlando pushing forward despite rise in COVID-19 cases

Tourism in Orlando pushing forward despite rise in COVID-19 cases

By: Beatrice Silva

2 min read July 2020 — It has been almost six months since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. Within days, each sector of the economy had to discover new ways to keep businesses afloat despite being forced to close their doors. Unlike banking and technology, tourism relies on almost every aspect of life that is now restricted, like travel and face-to-face interaction. For cities like Orlando, tourism is a major factor in the economy, to the tune of $75 billion a year.

 

 Tourism supports an estimated 41% of Orlando’s workforce. Around 463,000 jobs have been affected and millions of dollars worth of wages are being lost each day during the area’s local tourism shut down. Tourism also accounts for $5.8 billion in state and local taxes, finances which go to support local schools, roads and other crucial services, according to Visit Orlando. The city’s resilience, however, is proving that it is not going to let a microscopic organism bring it down as tourism continues to push forward.

Although the hotel industry has been wrestling with obstacles caused by COVID-19, activity in that area is starting to gain traction again. One example is the development of a five-star convention hotel that was recently announced. Summa Development Group LLC has proposed a 33-story project in Thornton Park and the construction is expected to begin sometime next year, according to Orlando Business Journal. As for the big players like Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Studios, they too have begun to jump-start their operations. Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot officially opened on July 15. Universal Studios welcomed guests back to its park on June 5, after almost two and a half months of closure. Of course, the theme parks will each have their own updated operational guidelines, including mandatory face coverings, temperature checks and social distancing regulations.  

When we first made the decision in March 2020 to close Universal Orlando Resort in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we didn’t know how long it would be for. We didn’t know what the future held or what a reopening would entail … Getting us here has been an in-depth process, and I am incredibly proud of the ways our Team Members have listened to experts and implemented new operational guidelines for the safety of our guests. At Universal Orlando Resort, we are following what we’re calling the three Ss. That’s screening, meaning we’re taking everybody’s temperature before they enter; sanitization, because we are constantly sanitizing areas and high-touch surfaces in the parks; and spacing, providing markings and reminders throughout our resort so guests can socially distance themselves from other parties,” said Bill Davis, president of Universal Orlando Resort, in a welcome back letter. 

It’s safe to say that tourism is the bloodline of Orlando’s economy. While there is hope for a new beginning and a new normal after the pandemic, the city isn’t in the clear just yet. Despite every attempt by public officials to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, cases continue to surge and hospitals are starting to fill up. On July 19, Florida reported 10,328 new positive COVID-19 cases and 90 Florida resident deaths related to COVID-19. Orlando has been listed as the second highest city, behind Miami, with the most confirmed number of COVID-19 cases, according to The Florida Department of Health

 

Tourists, Flight Availability Underpin MCO’s Record Growth

Tourists, Flight Availability Underpin MCO’s Record Growth

By: Sara Warden

2 min read February 2020 — Orlando’s tourism industry is going from strength to strength, generating $75.2 billion from 75 million people in 2018. The industry’s success at drawing in new customers benefits almost every other industry in the region, not least aviation. In 2019, Orlando International Airport experienced a record-breaking year, welcoming 50.6 million passengers – a 6.1% increase on the previous year.

“Orlando lnternational’s growth in 2019 is due to a combination of factors,” said Phil Brown, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) in a press release. “A strong Central Florida economy, continued innovative attractions being unveiled by the local theme parks, increased air service to new markets around the world and more seats coming into the area all equal record traffic at MCO.”

Currently, 38 airlines operate flights out of Orlando International, and in 2019 seat capacity was increased by 5.9% — around another 3.25 million seats. Most of this growth was generated by Spirit and Frontier, two budget airlines that continue to expand in Orlando. Spirit Airlines announced this month that it would expand the frequency of 16 routes from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Orlando International Airport in 2020.

“Florida is very important to Spirit Airlines, and we are going to keep growing in the state we call home,” said John Kirby, Vice President of Network Planning for Spirit, in a statement. “As the only major airline headquartered in the Sunshine State, Spirit Airlines continues to add new destinations and more nonstop service to meet the needs of Florida’s growing economy.”

And 2020 is shaping up to be an equally exciting year. According to GOAA, there will be 39 new destinations launched from airlines including Air Canada, Westjet, JetBlue, Emirates, Delta and Virgin Atlantic over the course of the year.

The first half of 2020 is full of exciting new attractions such as Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Cirque du Soleil is also stopping by to perform Drawn to Life, which is sure to make 2020 a year to compete with its predecessor.

And Universal Orlando Resort is planning a new theme park resort, plunging billions of dollars into 700 acres on Universal Boulevard for its Epic Universe. The park is set to integrate the traditional theme parks and rides, as well as hotels, restaurants and other entertainment facilities. “Our vision for Epic Universe will build on everything we have done and become the most immersive and innovative theme park we have ever created. It is an investment in our business, industry, team members and our community,” said Universal Parks & Resorts Chairman and CEO Tom Williams at the unveiling of the project last August.

Orlando International is growing to accommodate this influx of tourists, with $4 billion in construction projects in the pipeline. The new $2.1 billion South Terminal is now 45% complete, will add 19 gates and is scheduled to open by 2021.

 

To learn more, visit:

https://orlandoairports.net/

https://www.spirit.com/

https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us