Orlando had a record-breaking 72 million visitors in 2017

- Visit Orlando on Thursday announced that a record-breaking number 72 million visitors came to Orlando in 2017.

While domestic travel was a big factor, tourism officials believe they also need to focus on international travel.

That number is equivalent to the populations of seven states, including New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.  

"We put a lot of effort in the domestic market and basically the U.S.,"  said CEO of Visit Orlando George Aguel.

While domestic numbers are up, there have been challenges attracting international visitors.

 "We should put our arms around the folks from Brazil, South America, Latin America and say come here you're welcome," Aguel added. 

The CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, Roger Dow, said conventions are a big draw in Central Florida, with Orlando International Airport receiving more flights from various cities.

"There's an Orlando factor. When conventions come here they get a big attendance it's one of the few cities where that happens," said Dow, adding that, many times, people want to return with their  families.

Currently there are approximately 121,000 hotel rooms in Orlando.  President and CEO of Lowes Hotels, Jonathan Tisch, said that by next year, they will have 9,000 rooms opened --  meaning more jobs for locals.

"As the growth of tourism continues to grow, we're gonna need men and women to fill these jobs," he said.

"I started as a houseman moving tables and chairs, and it's been very very good to me," said Aguel. "Roger [Dow] was a life guard a Marriott and rose up the ranks."

Tourism leaders said they realize more visitors means more traffic, but they're doing their best to work with county leaders to improve our roads and infrastructure.

 

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