• Thousands of new hotel rooms on horizon for Orange County


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Visitors to the Orlando area will have more choices when it comes to places to stay in the near future. Thousands of new hotel rooms are now available and more are on the way.

    The additional hotels create job openings and generate millions of tax dollars for Orange County.

    Those tourism taxes support a wide variety of programs around the county.

    The Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center is now under construction in downtown Orlando, thanks to $130 million tourism tax dollars.

    The old Orlando Utilities Commission building will be the site of a new hotel coming next year. It will have nearly 120 rooms. That is just a small portion of the anticipated 2,800 rooms coming to Orlando in the next two years.

    WFTV has learned that those rooms could bring up to $4.6 million to Orange County each year. That's because each room rate includes a tourism tax that goes to future projects, like the Performing Arts Center.

    That assumes that the new hotels don't steal business from existing hotels.

    WFTV's Racquel Asa asked Brian Martin of Visit Orlando if all of the new hotel rooms are necessary.   

    "We look at demand. So is demand up over next year? Our forecast says it's going to be up by 2 percent," said Martin.

    Analysts said that 2014 is expected to be even better, with big expansions at Disney, Universal Studios and SeaWorld in the works.

    That is also the year when some big conventions, like the Home Builders Association, come back.   

    In 2010, that convention brought 70,000 people to town.

    "Those things really drive people to come back. And repeat business is where it's at for Orlando," said Martin.

    Six new hotels are expected to open by the end of next year. That means nearly 1,200 new rooms in 2013. The rest will be added in 2014.

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    Thousands of new hotel rooms on horizon for Orange County