Bringing tourists back to Orlando after a pandemic slump

Travelers' confidence is growing and experts are hoping people across the country are itching to take a trip. 

According to Destination Analysts, a research company working with Visit Orlando, more than 43% of those surveyed are either confident or very confident they can travel safely. Thirty percent said they plan to take at least one trip this coming summer.

For Visit Orlando, this summer is all about the bottom line and, of course, safety. That is why the tourism team is doing everything it can to show off Orlando and get people back in town. 

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"This property has a giant pool, splash pad, and lazy river. The girls were in heaven," a fun video narrated by Diana Blinkhorn is a viral version of a billboard for Visit Orlando. In another video, Diana Blinkhorn -- "Mrs. Blinks" as she is known by her 45,000 followers on Instagram -- is bobbing her head to the theme song Will Smith recorded for the show The Fresh Prince of BelAir. In the Instagram reel, the word Orlando is circling her head --  another thought-out advertisement for the theme-park city. 

Blinkhorn is like a lot of moms, snapping photos of her beautiful children doing memorable things and documenting their every move. She is lucky enough to capture those moments in all different places, including Orlando. She also gets perks because she has so many followers. She’s able to leverage her viewership for things like free stays, discounts, and even park tickets.

That’s exactly what Visit Orlando has been doing for years and even more so now that they have lost business during the pandemic.

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"When we look at a year ago, our industry was absolutely devastated. You saw plummeting numbers, whether it was hotel stays, visitation numbers.  Air certainly declined," explained Casandra Matej, the President and CEO of Visit Orlando.

Casandra Matej, the President and CEO of Visit Orlando.

Visit Orlando reports a 52% drop in visitors over the entire time COVID-19 restrictions began -- meaning, Matej and her team are working in overdrive to come up with unique ways to get business rolling again.

"We are actually inviting people to come back to Orlando because we are open and you can experience our destination very safely," Matej said.

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In February, Visit Orlando launched this ad targeting out-of-state visitors for the first time since the pandemic began early last year. The marketing team reported the ad had a return on investment of about $40 million, which they will cycle back into marketing campaigns for this year with the hopes more people will return to traveling to Orlando. 

Visit Orlando held its first in-person gathering of 2021.

One of the campaigns holding strong is Visit Orlando’s use of social influencers. Blinkhorn is one of their popular influencers, having worked with the tourism team a couple of times. 

"We love visiting Orlando and I love showing parents how much there is to do even outside of the theme parks. I also want to share our family’s adventures to show parents that travel can be safe and fun!" she told FOX 35 News.

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Blinkhorn tagged FOX 35 News in a three-minute vlog post she shared for Visit Orlando on Instagram TV. Both Blinkhorn and Visit Orlando said their message to everyone thinking about travelings is that it can be done safely.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.