Visit Orlando, the destination marketing and sales organization for the most visited destination in the U.S., announced today that Orlando welcomed a projected 54.3 million visitors from around the world in 2011; setting a new total visitation record that represents a 5.5% increase over its previous record of 51.4 million visitors in 2010. International travel to Central Florida increased 3% from 2010 to 3.79 million visitors. Looking ahead, visitation in 2012 is expected to continue to grow slightly to 55 million visitors.
“The continued success of Orlando’s tourism industry has been accomplished through aggressive marketing despite global economic challenges, strong collaborations throughout the travel industry including with our theme parks, the airport, airlines and the worldwide travel trade, and the continued development of a one-of-a-kind Orlando holiday experience,” said Visit Orlando President and CEO, Gary Sain, speaking at a press conference during International Pow Wow, one of the largest U.S. travel trade shows held this week in Los Angeles. “There is tremendous desire around the world to visit Orlando, and we’re continuing to expand our outreach through creative marketing and partnership programs to provide travelers with the access and the destination information they need.”
Canada, the UK and Brazil remained the top three markets for international visitation. Central and South America is the fastest-growing region of the world for Orlando, with this area posting double-digit growth over the last 10 years and now representing 40% of Orlando’s total international visitation.
To help meet the ongoing increased demand in international visitors, Visit Orlando is working closely with its airport and theme park partners to secure additional air service into the Central Florida region and to enhance the arrival experience for these passengers.
“Already this year, Orlando has added flights from British Airways and Monarch in the United Kingdom, Monarch and LAN Airlines from Chile, and GOL airline in Brazil,” Sain shared. “We will continue to work with airlines around the globe to provide options for travelers to get to Orlando easily and to offer unmatched hospitality to our country upon their arrival.”
The Orlando International Airport has been a leader in developing a model port for the United States focusing on several enhanced services and programs including:
- Increased customer service through designated arrival ambassadors speaking six languages including Arabic, French, German, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
- More efficient passenger processing systems with dedicated global entry lanes, enhanced signage in multiple languages and a more colorful and pleasing airport environment that reflects the sun and fun inherent in an Orlando holiday.
Visit Orlando executives also shared that $4 billion in new attractions, hotels and more is planned to continue to entice visitors to the destination. Some of these new experiences include:
- Turtle Trek at SeaWorld Orlando - A first-of-its-kind 3-D/360-degree dome theater immersing guests in the journey of a sea turtle; opening spring 2012.
- Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin at SeaWorld Orlando - Bringing the untamed, undiscovered continent of Antarctica to life in 2013.
- Despicable Me at Universal Orlando Resort - Taking guests on an unforgettable 3-D adventure with their favorite characters from this hit film; opening spring 2012.
- Art of Animation Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort - A new 2,000-room resort opening spring 2012 with family suites and standard rooms themed to the Disney-Pixar hit films “Finding Nemo,” “Cars,” “The Lion King” and “The Little Mermaid.”
- Fantasyland expansion at Disney’s Magic Kingdom - The most visited land in the park, Fantasyland is doubling in size with new rides, attractions and an opportunity for guests to meet their favorite princesses in Fantasy Hall; opening in 2012.
- Four Seasons Hotel at Walt Disney World Resort - Luxury resort opening in 2013.
“Our success as a destination is directly related to the support from our travel trade and media partners across the globe which help inspire travelers to choose Orlando for all that it has to offer,” added Sain. “We have created new tools to help make their jobs easier and a program called Global Hospitality Days, offering exclusive travel trade deals and discounts in appreciation for their continued partnership and support.”
New tools for the travel trade and media can be found at VisitOrlando.com/trade and VisitOrlando.com/media respectively and include expanded destination content and videos; interactive and downloadable maps; and downloadable itineraries. Global Hospitality Days runs August 15 – September 30, and more information is available at VisitOrlando.com/hospitality.
International Pow Wow draws more than 1,000 U.S. travel organizations and 1,200 international and domestic travel buyers from more than 70 countries. Together these buyers and sellers will negotiate business that will generate an estimated $3.5 billion in future U.S. travel. The trade show generates approximately $50 million in attendee spending for the host destination and Orlando will host the conference in 2015.