ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County commissioners could slash funding for the group tasked with attracting millions of tourists to Orlando’s many theme parks, venues, restaurants, and small businesses — Visit Orlando.
Commissioners in October agreed to use the majority of the tourist development tax collections, $560 million out of the roughly $900 million, on the expansion of the Orange County Convention Center. Then, local leaders decided to hold off on talks about Visit Orlando’s funding.
But Tuesday, county commissioners ultimately came to the consensus that funding for Visit Orlando should be cut down. The question that remains—how much funding will be cut?
Some commissioners tossed around cutting funding for Visit Orlando by up to $37 million dollars.
In 2023, Visit Orlando received nearly a third of county collections from the hotel tax, about $107 million. It’s nearly double what the group got in 2018. To compare, Florida only allocates $80 million dollars on tourism for the whole state.
It’s why commissioners like Mayra Uribe say funding should be cut down.
“I don’t think anyone here is saying marketing is bad… What we’re talking about is a balance,” Uribe said.
Commissioners say without cutting some funding from Visit Orlando, the county won’t be able to renovate or develop some venues in Orlando that they want to.
“If we gave Visit Orlando a haircut, there would be additional dollars to cash other projects,” said Mayor Jerry Demings.
Visit Orlando argued their funding shouldn’t be cut. They emphasized the economic impact tourism has had in the area. Central Florida’s travel and tourism industry generated a total economic impact of $87.6 billion dollars in 2022.
Visit Orlando says their marketing goes beyond the theme parks and gives the full picture of the area, including what small businesses have to offer. Visit Orlando representatives say cuts to their funding jeopardizes their “reach” in marketing, including in international destinations.
“This is not the time to cut back on marketing. Because this is a partnership. This is, you know, Visit Orlando having to market and sell the area. Because we’re competing with Las Vegas. We’re competing with New York and competing with London,” they said.
Commissioners have discussed funding renovations at the Amway Center and Camping World Stadium.
Steve Hogan, CEO of Florida Citrus Sports, says the stadium needs at least $400 million for renovations to “complete the campus.”
“I think the completing the campus not only will be competitive in sports entertainment, I think it’d be really competitive for what happens in the next iteration of the West downtown neighborhoods,” Hogan said.
Commissioners plan to meet again to discuss how much funding will be cut from Visit Orlando. There is no word yet on when that meeting will be and when they will discuss the distribution of the remaining TDT funds.
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