Orange County collects more tourist dollars, but hopes for more with international travel back

Orange County says it collected 134% more tourist dollars this September than at the same time last year.

Still, county leaders say they are disappointed.

"We generated about $175 million for the year. That’s a little bit better than last year but nowhere near what we did a couple of years ago," said Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond.

A couple of years ago, he says the county made $283 million.

The Tourist Development Tax is collected on hotel and other short-term rental sales and is used to fund tourism-related needs, like paying off the convention center.

"I think a lot of it has been unpredictable. As a result, that has been tough on people that work in the industry."

Diamond says Orange County's Renewal and Replacement Reserve, which is the county’s savings account, is taking a major hit.

There was $180 million in the safety net account and now it is down to just about $40 million.

"It's something we need to keep a very careful eye on because we've never used $140 million before," Diamond said.

A strong July helped replenish some of the loss.

With international travelers coming back to the theme parks, Diamond hopes the next few months will finally show some growth.

"People from other countries tend to spend a lot more money here than people that might be driving down for a weekend."