ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - For another year, Orlando is the most visited destination in the United States, beating cities like New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Orlando’s tourism association, Visit Orlando, on Thursday announced that 75 million people visited the area in 2018, making it another record year for tourism.
“Overwhelming to think of reaching a number like 75 million, when no one else in the country has even reached 70,” said George Aguel, President & CEO, Visit Orlando.
But what makes Orlando so special? Aguel says the collaborative culture of the local tourism industry is one reason.
“I can tell you that other cities, other communities don’t have that collaborative community effort, so I think that’s how it all comes together to give us this amazing, remarkable positioning we have, which is extraordinary,” said Aguel.
“The collaboration in Orlando is better than anywhere else around the country, in my opinion, and I believe that’s what drags that up with the marketing attached to it, it keeps us fresh, it keeps us vibrant and people want to come back again and again and that’s what makes Orlando special,” said Adrian Jones, Board Chair, Visit Orlando.Aguel says the attractions are always expanding and improving.
“The nature of the theme park industry is that you constantly add more experiences, so that’s an ongoing benefit that we have,” said Aguel.
Not to mention, Orlando has something for everyone.
“Whether it’s a hot air balloon, dine and ride, wrestling an alligator or going to a major attraction at a major theme park, it’s there for everybody,” said Aguel. “New York, Chicago, Miami, Vegas, they’re not happy that we’re number one and we know that and we love to rub it in their face.”
Affordability also sets Orlando apart, according to tourism experts. They say unlike other cities, Orlando offers an experience for every budget. The tourism industry celebrating the achievement but local leaders say we all should be.
“It’s a good indicator of the overall economic health of our community,” said Jerry Demings, Mayor, Orange County.
Mayor Demings says we all benefit from the success of tourism.
“That really translates across all industries, it means that we are doing well, the overall wealth of our community continues to increase and that’s a great thing for the entire region,” said Demings.
Part of that wealth comes in tax revenue.
“One thing as residents that we enjoy, that half of our sales tax is paid by tourists and our highest property tax drivers are tourist organizations,” said Jones.
Money that is used on regional projects.
“The Amway Center, the Dr. Philips Performing Arts Center, the luxury malls that we have, the Camping World Stadium, all of those have been funded by the tax dollars tourists pay,” said Aguel.
According to the mMayor, more revenue could help solve our regions problems, like traffic.
“We are experiencing growing pains, we have traffic congestion but through planning and an intentional vision for the region, we can deal with those things and we’ll have the money to do it,” said Demings.
In the end, at least we have more to enjoy, right here at home.
“For our own enjoyment, celebrity chef restaurants that would never have been here, if it wasn’t for tourism, stores and other attractions and experiences never would have been here if it wasn’t for the visitors,” said Aguel.
Tourism representatives say, if anything, locals should at least be proud to live in a place people want to visit more than anywhere else.